Ceres

Isn’t it wierd that scientists are scanning the universe in search of a planet that might be able to habour life when there’s one floating around our backyard between Mars and Jupiter? Is it not also suprising that no one talks about it?

The planet Ceres, though regarded as a “Dwarf Planet” is believed to have water and ice on its rocky surface. Isn’t that a marker for life? Another coincidence is that its named after Ceres, the Roman goddess of growing plants, the harvest, and motherly love. Now why would it be called that?
“The Cererian surface is most likely a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clays.” Wait, clays? and that doesn’t point to life?

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt. Discovered on 1 January 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, it was the first asteroid to be identified, though it was classified as a planet at the time. Guess what? The last time a picture of this object was taken was in 2004! You’d think scientists would take it more seriously. Oh well, the unmanned Dawn spacecraft, launched on 27 September 2007 by NASA, is expected to be the first to explore Ceres after its scheduled arrival there in 2015. We’ll have to wait and hope the elections don’t cloud the skies.
Come to think of it though, there are countless clear photos of Jupiter, of Mars of farther planets even. So why is it difficult to get a clear and up-to-date photo of Ceres??

Discovery
The idea that an undiscovered planet could exist between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter was suggested by Johann Elert Bode (not a yoruba man) in 1772. Previously, in 1596, Kepler had already noticed the gap between Mars and Jupiter. Bode’s
considerations were based on the Titius–Bode Law, a now discredited hypothesis which had been first proposed by Johann Daniel Titius in
1766, observing that there was a regular pattern in the semi-major axes of the orbits of known planets marred only by the large gap between Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres (bottom left),the Moon and the Earth, shown to scale

The classification of Ceres has changed more than once and has been the subject of some disagreement. Johann Elert Bode believed Ceres
to be the “missing planet” he had proposed to exist between Mars and Jupiter, at a distance of 419 million km (2.8 AU) from the Sun.
Ceres was assigned a planetary symbol, and remained listed as a planet in astronomy books and tables (along with 2 Pallas, 3 Juno and 4 Vesta) for about half a century.

The 2006 debate surrounding Pluto and what constitutes a ‘planet’ led to Ceres being considered for reclassification as a planet. A proposal before the International Astronomical Union for the definition of a planet would have defined a planet as “a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity
to overcome rigid-body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet”. Had this resolution been adopted, it would have made Ceres the fifth planet in order from the Sun. It was not accepted, and in its place an alternate definition came into effect as of 24 August 2006, carrying the additional requirement that a “planet” must have ” cleared the neighborhood around its orbit”. By this definition, Ceres is not a planet because it does not dominate its orbit, sharing it with the thousands of other asteroids in the asteroid belt and constituting only about a third of the total mass. It is instead now classified as a dwarf planet.

Hubble SpaceTelescope images of Ceres, taken in 2003–04 with a resolution of about 30 km. The nature of the bright spot is uncertain

Potential for extraterrestrial life
While not as actively discussed as a potential home for extraterrestrial life as Mars or Europa, the potential presence of water ice has led to speculation that life may exist there, and that evidence for this could be found in hypothesized ejecta that could have come from Ceres to Earth.

Ok o. it looks too shady to not be intentional sha.

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