The Asteroid Belt
And Its' Significant Celestial Bodies
Ceres is the largest celestial body in the asteroid belt, comprising roughly one-third of the asteroid belts mass at 9.39 x 10^20 kilograms. Unlike other bodies in the asteroid belt Ceres is so large that it has a roughly spherical shape, weak atmosphere, and an orbit around the sun, making it a dwarf planet rather than an asteroid.
Ceres existence was predicted to exist by German astronomer Johann Elert Bode, whom claimed there must be a planet between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was first discovered and mapped by Giuseppe Piazzi on January 1, 1801, while he was searching for stars at the Academy of Palermo, Italy. Ceres is also the namesake of the Roman goddess of agriculture, whose feelings dictate the seasons and harvest.
Ceres has an orbit around the sun which takes approximately 4.6 Earth years, and a day that comprises about nine hours and four minutes, and contains a rocky core and icy mantle. It is estimated to contain more freshwater on its’ mantle than there is on Earth, and it is hypothesized by scientists (via infrared waves) that a liquid ocean lies beneath the surface. This discovery has led many scientists to believe that there might be micro-organisms and thus life outside Earth in our solar system.
The atmosphere is fairly minimal, containing mostly water vapor evaporated from the surface, and the surface temperature may reach -36 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
As for its’ origin, Ceres was most likely formed as a result of lacking gravitational pull from Jupiter and is hypothesized to be a surviving proto-planet from the creation of the solar system that formed 4.57 years ago.
Vestal fragments, affected by Jupiters' gravity, are among those that crash into Earth as meteorites. In addition Vesta has a thin Basaltic crust and is a sister body to Ceres.
Pallas and Hygiea
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- N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.space.com/12097-vesta-asteroid-facts-solar-system.html>.