The largest asteroid in our solar system, Ceres, has been found to be full of water.
Scientists have recently discovered that this cosmic giant was once oozing with liquid water, the precursor to all known life. Ceres is 940 kilometers (about 584 miles) across and makes up one third of all the mass in the asteroid belt. This discovery means that Ceres could have contained extra-terrestrial life at one point, and it could also be a much needed source of water for deep space colonies coming from earth.
The water reserve is currently frozen solid as ice deep inside its pores and locked in hydrated minerals near the surface, a surprise considering Ceres' lack of an atmosphere. Just like Earth, Ceres' ice is concentrated around its poles, with more than 30% of the ground consisting of hydrated minerals. Whereas near the equator the ice has sublimated off into space and one would need to dig to find it, the poles have ice appearing right at the surface.
Relative size of the Earth, Moon and Ceres.
Thomas Prettyman, a nuclear engineer at the Planetary Science Institute, led the team which built the instrument used to capture data about Ceres. His team used data gathered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which measured the gamma-rays and neutrons reflecting off of Ceres as it passed by, to generate a map of the asteroid’s hydrogen levels.
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The full study was published in Science Magazine