Is there water on asteroids?
The answer is yes. The biggest asteroid in the asteroid belt is called Ceres. In fact, it is also considered as a dwarf planet. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, currently orbiting Ceres since 2015, sent convincing results concerning the presence of water on this dwarf planet.
Two different teams of researchers came up with the same conclusion: water has an important role in the evolution of Ceres.
The first team, led by Andrea Raponi from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, focused their research on the Juling Crater located in the asteroid’s midlatitudes. Thanks to the Dawn spacecraft, a patch of ice was seen growing from 3.6 km2 to 5.5 km2 over six months. This event was not expected considering that the crater is located where the sun is higher overhead and the shadows are harder to maintain. Raponi’s team suggested two explanations for this phenomenon. The first possibility is that, as the subsurface of Ceres is made of water ice, a landslide along the crater’s wall would uncover the sub-layer and thus make the ice patch appear to grow. The second possibility, prefered by the team, involves water vapor. In this instance, a source of heat ...