Watch NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Buzz Dwarf Planet Ceres in the Asteroid Belt
Ceres accounts for 25% of the mass of the asteroid belt, and unlike most of its irregularly shaped neighbors, it is massive enough to be nearly spherical like a moon or planet. ..... Models of the dwarf planet’s interior suggest its mantle may consist of a slurry of water and dirt that contains more fresh water than Earth. .... early images from the Dawn mission showed mysterious bright spots on the surface .... highly reflective patches of surface ice are one possibility. ...... Discovering water on Ceres would have implications for space exploration. Water is a potential source of hydration, breathable air, and rocket fuel, and will therefore prove a precious resource for space wanderers. .... Ceres would make a good extraterrestrial outpost. Its low gravity makes landing and taking off less energy intensive, and resources on the surface could resupply missions—perhaps even trips to the outer solar system.