NASA just Discover an ice volcano on Ceres that's half the size of Everest - Physics-Astronomy.org

NASA just Discover an ice volcano on Ceres that's half the size of Everest

For the 1st  time, NASA scientists have discover direct evidence of a strange form of icy volcanism on a former planet named Ceres, located in the asteroid belt. In the 1800s, Ceres was a small planet with huge dreams. But that all distorted later that century when scientists realised that there were top differences between planets and the recently minted classification of "asteroids".
After 5- decades of planetdom, Ceres was demoted to a lowly asteroid.
If Ceres was leaving to be an asteroid, it would be king of the asteroids. It held the honor of being the first asteroid ever exposed, and it reigned supreme in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, dominating a 3rdof the belt’s mass.
Then, in 2006, Ceres was once more reclassified, this time as a dwarf planet - not quite a planet, but not fairly an asteroid, either. Now, Ceres had to share the spotlight with Pluto and the relax of the dwarf planets out there. And at now 600 miles (964 kilometres) wide, Ceres is one of the smallest dwarf planets in our Solar System.
A few tricks up its sleeve
But that hasn’t kept Ceres from shoving its way to the attention. The tiny dwarf planet has continued to baffle scientists with mysterious white spots and dying craters and it turns out the icy world motionless has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. One of those tricks include a massive ice volcano called Ahuna Mons that spews boiling salt water.
Published alongside six other study on Thursday, NASA scientists released a paper in Science that claims that Ahuna Mons is the strongest proof yet for the existence of these mysterious ice volcanoes. The scientists used data from the Dawn spacecraft they sent to examine the asteroid belt.
Ahuna Mons is a gigantic pyramid-shaped mountain taking up a top, isolated chunk of Ceres that has been mysterious scientists for years. It’s 13,000 feet (3,962 metres) high and 11 miles (17.7 kilometres) wide at its base - about half the size of Mt. Everest and on a terrestrial body the size of Texas, that kind of arrangement stands out. Scientists had no idea how such a giant, isolated mountain could have formed on the dwarf planet.
Another interesting fact about Ahuna Mons is its age. While a few hundred million years sounds very old compared to the young volcanoes on Earth, it’s extremely young compare to volcanoes on the Moon and Mars.
And even weirder than its disproportionate size, its age, and its forlorn location is the material that the volcano is made of - ice. Scientists have long supposed that crazy ice volcanoes, called cryovolcanoes, live on Pluto and Ceres and even Saturn’s moon Titan, but Ahuna Mons has given them their 1st real evidence of cryovolcanism.

What is cryovolcanism?
Cryovolcanoes are kind of like usual volcanoes except ... different. Instead of spitting out molten rock when they erupt, they spit out a mix of salt and water. As Ahuna Mons spews out the salty water it freezes, creating an icy dome at the peak, which, for the NASA scientists was one of the telltale signs that Ahuna Mons is a cryovolcano.
The scientists used geological maps of the district complete from images taken by Dawn as it orbited Ceres, Ottaviano Ruesch, NASA scientist and lead author of the document, told Business Insider.
They look at craters and used 3D elevation models look at what processes could form the remote mountain. Because they were able to keep out formation by tectonic plates and erosion, volcanism seemed like their top choice.
"The only process that forms an isolated mountain is volcanism," Ruesch said.
After study the 3D models they made of Ahuna Mons, the scientists also compare its structure to that of other volcanoes. They establish that the small volcanic dome, as well as the flanks and summit, are all very similar to what you’d find on Earth, the Moon, and Mars.
"We’ve seen hints of cryovolcanic activity in the history but weren’t sure at all so this is an important discovery that puts constraint on how Ceres could have evolved," Ruesch said. "This mountain on the outside tells us what’s going on the interior."
According to Ruesch, the volcano could shine a glow on a key process in the evolution of Ceres that formed latest crystals and minerals such as salt. It was this salt that enabled the configuration of fluids on Ceres. That’s since when you add salt to water, it lowers the temperature at which the water freezes, allow it to stay fluid for longer.
As Dawn continues orbiting approximately Ceres, scientists will take more images of the mountain to see if there are any changes and create sure there isn’t any life still brewing in the volcano. This will allow them to add of time dimensions to their models, taking more pictures over a longer age of time.
"We don’t expect to discover any [life] but you never know," Ruesch said. "Nature surprises us every time so we want to make certain the volcano isn’t active."
So Ceres power not be a planet. And it might not be king of the asteroids. But it’s home to a giant volcano made of ice. And that’s pretty cool.

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