Ceres’s global and localized mineralogical composition determined by Dawn’s Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (VIR)

1M.C. De Sanctis et al. (>10)
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13104]
1Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, INAF, Rome, Italy
Published by Arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (VIR) instrument on the Dawn mission observed Ceres’s surface at different spatial resolutions, revealing a nearly uniform global distribution of surface mineralogy. Clearly, Ceres experienced extensive water‐related processes and chemical differentiation. The surface is mainly composed of a dark component (carbon, magnetite?), Mg‐phyllosilicates, ammoniated clays, carbonates, and salts. The observed species suggest endogenous, global‐scale aqueous alteration. While mostly uniform at regional scale, Ceres’s surface shows small localized areas with different species and/or variations in abundances. Few local exposures of water ice are seen, especially at higher latitudes. Sodium carbonates have been identified in several areas on the surface, notably in Occator bright faculae. Organic matter has also been discovered in several places, most conspicuously in a large area close to the Ernutet crater. The observed mineralogies, with the presence of ammoniated species and sodium salts, have a strong resemblance to materials found on other bodies of the outer solar system, such as Enceladus. This poses some questions about the original material from which Ceres accreted, suggesting a colder environment for such material with respect to Ceres’s present position.

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