Mysteriously missing craters on Ceres intrigue scientists

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently published an article online which stated that the dwarf planet Ceres might lack large craters. This news piece has come as a shock to scientists around the world as they cannot reach a conclusion to why the 4.5 billion years old Ceres does not have large craters.

Last year in the month of March, NASA Dawn spacecraft arrived at the orbit of the dwarf planet and spotted that no craters were bigger than one-hundred and seventy miles in diameter. This news is a mystery for researchers as they believed that Ceres the largest object between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter must have many big craters.

Why are caters important? The answer is quite simple as it is a window to know the planet history and is the first thing that astronomers examine to understand the nature of a new object. They believed that because Ceres was so old in the universe, it should have 10 to 15 craters that were 250 miles wide. But instead, it had only 40 craters that were 60 miles wide and this news totally shocked the researchers.

So to get a clear picture of the reason behind it Simone Marchi along with its group of scientists conducted a series of computer simulation to understand what Ceres might have endured in its lifetime. Researchers collected at SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division to understand the reason behind missing large craters in the current time.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communication under the title of “The Missing Large Impact Craters on Ceres”. The astronomers have tried to come up with new hypothesis to understand the reason behind it. The first report in the article suggests that because the icy interior of Ceres is mobile so it allows the ground to refresh after an extended period. The process is known as viscous relaxation which flattens the bigger craters faster.

The second hypothesis is that large craters may have been erased due to ice volcanoes. They believe that the dwarf planet may have been wetter in the past but with time the large cryovolcanism may have altered its surface.

For now, scientists are waiting for the spacecraft Dawn to come up with some new data to understand the reason behind craters disappearance. The high-resolution photos and the detailed gravity measurement will scientists a clear picture of Cere’s interior.

Scientists have also come up with a conclusion that the process of disappearance must have happened several hundred million years ago.

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