Scientists have modeled conditions on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres and found increased levels of hydrogen. They assume that there is ice on the celestial body.
Anomalies in the distribution of hydrogen in the crater Occator on the dwarf planet Ceres indicate the presence of an ice crust. This is stated in a new paper by Tom Prettiman, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Planetary Sciences.
The evidence comes from data from a gamma-ray and neutron detector (GRaND) aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. A detailed map of the hydrogen concentration in the vicinity of Occator was obtained from observations in elliptical orbits, which allowed the spacecraft to get very close to the surface during the final phase of the mission.
The GRaND neutron spectrometer has detected an increased concentration of hydrogen in the uppermost layer of the surface of Occator, a young crater 92 km in diameter. The article claims that excess hydrogen is in the form of ice. The results confirm that the outer crust of Ceres is ice-rich and that ice can persist in impact discharges on airless ice bodies.
“We believe that the ice remained shallow for about 20 million years after the formation of Occator. The similarities between the global distribution of hydrogen and the structure of large craters suggest that impact processes brought ice to the surface elsewhere in Ceres. This process is accompanied by the loss of ice as a result of heating the surface by sunlight, ”the researchers noted.
Scientists speculate that the impact that formed Occator carried materials out from a depth of up to 10 km. Thus, the observed increase in the concentration of hydrogen in the crater and ejected matter confirms the theory of scientists that the crust of a celestial body is covered with ice.