Ceres is a dwarf planet and is widely considered the largest space body in the large asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Now, a new study that made use of data obtained by NASA's Dawn Mission has suggested that the dwarf planet has a vast depository of saltwater beneath its surface.
More Details of the Study
According to the new study, there could be an underground reservoir about 25 miles deep and hundreds of miles wide beneath Ceres. The Dawn spacecraft had orbited this dwarf planet from 2015 to 2018, and during this period, the mission spotted a bright layer on the surface of Ceres. Further analysis suggested that this layer is actually salt deposits made up of sodium, carbon, and oxygen drained up from the underground ocean.
Scientists who took part in the study also believe that this geological process that is creating the salty rust is still happening.
"This elevates Ceres to 'ocean world' status, noting that this category does not require the ocean to be global. In the case of Ceres, we know the liquid reservoir is a regional scale but we cannot tell for sure that it is global. However, what matters most is that there is liquid on a large scale," said Carol Raymond, NASA's principal investigator for the Dawn mission, Reuters reports.
Alien Hopes Rise
This is not the first time that NASA is discovering underground oceans in distant space bodies. Earlier, NASA has found intriguing evidence of underground oceans on Enceladus and Europa, moons of Saturn and Jupiter, respectively.
According to space scientists, the presence of oceans on space bodies is a strong sign that alien life may be thriving there. Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, also admitted that humans are on the verge of discovering alien life.
"The probability of finding life on another world keeps going up. Ceres is the latest evidence that our solar system is filled with ancient habitable environments," tweeted Bridenstine.