Life on Ceres? A probe has discovered a subsurface ocean of liquid water there

The world of astronomy has been waiting for this news for several years. The Dawn probe mission has finally resulted in confirmation that this mysterious globe is indeed an ideal place for biological life to flourish.

Scientists from NASA analyzed the research data acquired by the vehicle over the past few years. It turns out that this dwarf planet is a more fascinating place than it looks. The surface of Ceres resembles that of our Moon, but now we know that there is a huge reservoir of liquid water hiding under the surface.

This dramatically changes the whole situation. Until now, scientists assumed that there might be more water on this globe than on Earth, but they didn’t expect to find traces of it on the surface, and in such spectacular places.

Several years ago, the Dawn probe photographed mysterious white and luminous spots on the surface in Occator crater. At the time, theories emerged that these could be alien cities. The appearance of these spots was deceptively similar to Earth’s metropolises visible from satellite. Subsequent close flybys of the probe resulted in images that dispelled doubts. They showed huge deposits of sodium carbonate, a compound of sodium, carbon, and oxygen.

Scientists wondered how it got there. They analyzed the probe data and it quickly became clear that their source was a subsurface ocean of saltwater. The liquid reached the surface and evaporated, leaving a highly reflective salt crust. Studies show that the brine reservoir is about 40 kilometers deep and hundreds of kilometers wide.

Ceres is further evidence that dwarf planets and moons of planets can have ideal conditions for life to flourish. It does not necessarily occur on the surface, as it does on Earth, but deep below the surface in large bodies of water. The same is true for Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, and Europa, a moon of Jupiter.

Interestingly, scientists have still only analyzed 10 percent of the data acquired by the Dawn probe. They hope the new data will shed even more light on the water phenomenon of this dwarf planet and help us better prepare for planned exploration missions to the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. NASA is also considering sending another mission to Ceres, but that won’t be decided for several years.

It looks like the 20s and 30s of the 21st century may be marked by the discovery of biological or completely alien life forms beyond the Earth, and not on planets, but much smaller objects such as dwarf planets or moons.

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