#Asteroid #Ceres – The Mystery Of Ceres’ Missing Craters: What Caused The Dwarf Planet’s Impact Craters To Mysteriously Disappeared? : There is a mystery afoot surrounding the craters, or lack thereof, on Ceres, our nearest dwarf planet that resides within the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in our solar system.
According to recent data collected by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, that has been orbiting Ceres since March of 2015, the dwarf planet should have at least 10 to 15 large impact craters larger than 250 miles (400 kilometers) in diameter across its surface, and around 40 craters larger than 60 miles (100 kilometers) wide.
The strange thing about Ceres, however, is that it doesn’t. What Dawn actually found was that Ceres only had 16 craters larger than 60 miles, and none larger than 175 (280 kilometers) in diameter. So, what happened to the craters on Ceres? Well, therein lies the mystery.
Prior to flying into orbit around Ceres last year, Dawn spent 14 months orbiting Vesta, a heavily cratered protoplanet near Ceres, roughly half the size of the dwarf planet. Using Vesta as a model, Simone Marchi, a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute’s Space Science and Engineering Division in Colorado, created computer simulations of asteroid collisions Ceres should have endured over its 4.5 billion year lifespan, reports the Guardian.
“Ceres is thought to have formed at the dawn of the solar system, some one to ten million years or so after the onset of formation. Thus, Ceres is a witness to the tumultuous early days where collisions were much more frequent and violent than today.”
The computer simulations showed that Ceres should have had some incredibly large impact craters pockmarking its surface, what scientists found, however, was a nearly smooth surface, dotted only by several small craters. Not at all what one would expect for a celestial body that has spent billions of years in an asteroid belt.