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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Water Plumes Discovered on the Solar System’s Largest Asteroid


Because of its mass, Ceres is classified as a dwarf planet, so it’s more like frozen Pluto and less like the lumpy potato-shaped objects that we typically think of as hanging out in the asteroid belt. Scientists have long suspected that the object contains an abundance of frozen water, roughly the same amount as all the fresh water on Earth. Recent observations with the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory showed for the first time unmistakable signatures of water vapor shooting out from Ceres.

Water jets have been spotted on asteroids and comets before, perhaps most famously on comet Hartley 2, which was photographed by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft as it flew by in 2010.

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