Dwarf planet Ceres is an 'ocean world' with sea water beneath surface, mission finds

Using infrared imaging, one team discovered the presence of the compound hydrohalite – a material common in sea ice but which until now had never been observed beyond Earth. Maria Cristina De Sanctis, from Rome’s Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica said hydrohalite was a clear sign Ceres used to have sea water. “We can now say that Ceres is a sort of ocean world, as are some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s moons,” she told AFP. The team said the salt deposits looked like they had built up within the last 2 million years – the blink of an eye in space time. This suggests that the brine may still be ascending from the planet’s interior, something De Sanctis said could have profound implications in future studies. “The material found on Ceres is extremely important in terms of astrobiology,” she said. “We know that these minerals are all essential for the emergence of life.”

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