Saturday, 26 December 2015

Dwarf Planet Ceres Looks Young And Is Geologically Active

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Joel Kontinen

It seems that there is something very much wrong about the models astronomers have designed, as each new discovery brings a big surprise.

Planets that were assumed to be geologically inactive turn out to be alive. The newest surprise comes from data sent by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft that has been mapping Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt (i.e. the area between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter).

With a diameter of 950 kilometres, Ceres should probably be inactive, at least in a 4.5 billion year old solar system.

But new data suggest that it isn’t. A news item in Nature quotes Andreas Nathues, a planetary scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, as saying:

Some kind of geological process seems to continually feed ice to the surface, replenishing what is lost.”

So, once again, we have a dwarf planet that looks younger that it should. However, we shouldn’t be surprised, since Genesis speaks of a relatively young universe.


Witze, Alexandra. 2015. Mysterious bright spots on Ceres are probably salt. Nature news (9 December).