By: April Carson
The search for life on Europa is ongoing, and some scientists believe that its gravitational pull could be enough to create an environment where organisms might exist.
The mysterious world between Mars and Jupiter’s orbit has been the subject of many headlines in recent years - from strange lights seen by NASA's Hubble Telescope during flyovers through several pictures taken by astronomers who say they've spotted pyramidal mountains which may indicate an ocean beneath this icy crust.
It was previously thought that Ceres, a dwarf planet in the solar system with an orbit around Mars and less than three times as far from Earth compared to its host star (the Sun), may have been primordial. This new data gathered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft suggest otherwise - it appears instead there could be oceans on this oceanic world!
The discovery also sheds light into our understanding of possible habitability outside our own cosmic neighborhood; we now know how deep those brines go at regional scales down through possibly global ones too…at about 600 miles from surface-level diameter for you proportions cruisers out there who are thinking what did I just say? It means if they had scaled up one thousand fold you still wouldn't get close enough because it's deeper than that - by several hundred miles at least.
So what? you may ask...well, I'll let the science speak for itself for this one...believe it or not, the implications are significant without being pretentious or coming off as if I cut-and-pasted out of Star Trek, but in all seriousness before the thing is entirely proven it's looking more likely that on some level Saturn's moon Enceladus has organic life of some kind on it...
The Dawn spacecraft has been exploring the Solar System for more than 11 years. It orbited Ceres and Vesta, two ancient time capsules from solar system's earliest chapters with scientific data that it ran out of fuel to collect on June 30, 2018. It will remain in orbit around Ceres for years to come.
But before the spacecraft failed to communicate with Earth, it flew over Ceres’s surface. The flyover revealed an intriguing truth: this alien world may have been geologically active in recent times and had a bright glow that scientists knew wasn't coming from any rocks or ice volcanoes on their own due to how different things lit up when seen through high-powered telescopes as opposed what we saw during our close encounter last year.
Ceres has always been shrouded by enigmas; now there's more mystery than ever thanks largely because they're able see geological evidence of volcanic activity for once which adds another layer between us humans who only understand about 70% (or less!)
According to the authors of one study led by Carol Raymond from California Institute of Technology, a large reservoir is likely hidden under Occator crater. In another article Maria Cristina De Sanctis and her colleagues point out that hydrated sodium chloride can be found in bright central area as well suggesting new brine being pushed across surface with surprising speed for such dry salts.
The recent data also indicate that the crater’s mounds and hills would have formed after water flows – created by an original impact- froze, revealing a liquid state below Ceres' surface. It's similar in many ways to moons such as Saturn or Jupiter's Europa due its oceanic environment which may be able host life!
Astrobiologists will now strive for answers about whether there could exist any form of microorganisms on this dwarf planetoid next door neighbor?
Only on Earth and Mars have we seen this kind of behavior, but the existence of Ceres implies that it is far more common than was previously imagined. This celestial body could become our key for looking deep into the origins of life!