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Urvara Impact Crater Organic Chemistry and Salt Deposits

Rough surface: The surface of the dwarf planet Ceres has a number of large and impressive craters. Credits: MPS, based on Dawn Mission data: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

The third largest crater on the dwarf planet Ceres has been geologically active at least once every millions of years since its formation.In a recent study published today in the journal Nature CommunicationsResearchers at the Maxplank Solar Systems Institute (MPS) in Gettingen, the University of Münster (WWU), and the National Institute of Science Education (NISER) in Bubaneshwar, India, have conducted the most detailed research on the Ulvaractor to date. I am announcing. .. For the first time, they evaluated camera images from the final stages of NASA’s Dawn mission. This reveals a geological structure that is only a few meters in size. The Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around dwarf planets in 2015 and studied it up close for about three and a half years. Researchers argue that the Ulvara Crater, like the Octa Crater, may have been a scene of ice volcanic activity. This study supports the image that the world’s saltwater seas extend beneath the crust of Ceres. Some of them can still be liquid today.


Numerous large craters cover the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. It is the largest object in the asteroid belt, about 960 kilometers in diameter. Perhaps the most striking of these craters is the Occator in the Northern Hemisphere. The internal bright spots that were already clearly visible at dawn’s approach were found to be saltwater residues beneath the surface that had risen to the surface during the course of ice volcanoes until recent geological times. Another large crater, called Ernutet, has evidence of exposed organic compounds and therefore has very complex chemistry. In the latest publication, researchers led by MPS focus on Ulvara Crater.Is in Southern hemisphere, It is the third largest crater in Ceres, 170 kilometers in diameter. The impact that formed it about 250 million years ago is believed to have revealed matter from a depth of up to 50 kilometers.

“The large impact structure of Ceres gives us access to the deeper layers of the dwarf planets,” explains Andrea Snatures of MPS, lead author of the current study and principal investigator of Dawn’s camera team. “After all, the current topography and mineralogy of some of Ceres’ large craters is the result of complex and long-lasting geological processes that have transformed the surface of dwarf planets,” he adds.

High-resolution imaging and spectroscopic data are required to track these processes as accurately as possible. The most accurate observational data of the Ulvara Crater was obtained during Dawn’s extended mission. After the expiry of a major mission originally designed to last two years, the remaining fuel was sufficient to fly a bolder and more highly elliptical orbit, carrying the spacecraft within 35. Surface kilometers. During this phase, two Dawn Framing cameras, the mission’s scientific camera system, took images that could identify structures several meters in size. The camera system was developed and built under the leadership of MPS and operated by MPS during the mission.

Dwarf planet Ceres: Urvara impact crater organic chemistry and salt deposits

Impressive structure: The diameter of the Ulvara crater is about 170 kilometers. The walls of the multi-terrace crater surround a wide variety of geological structures. The most striking feature is the mountain range, which is about 25 kilometers long, not far from the center of the crater. Credits: © MPS, based on Dawn Mission data: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

High-resolution images of the Ulvara Crater reveal a distinctly diverse landscape geologically. Multiple tiered crater walls surround the collision basin. The most striking feature that rises slightly away from the center of the crater is the mountain range, which is about 25 kilometers long and 3 kilometers high. Its southern flanks are steep cliffs, rock-studded areas, and occasional bright material locations reminiscent of the famous bright spots of the Occato Crater. In addition, the image shows a deep central depression, a very smooth surface area, and an area dotted with numerous small round depressions.

“Our analysis reveals that different areas of the crater have very different ages,” says Nico Schmedemann of the WWU Institute for Planetary Sciences. “The age difference is up to 100 million years, which suggests that the process that went on long after the crater was actually formed was working,” he adds. In this type of study, researchers count small craters that cover every surface of the body without atmosphere. They have more craters than the young ones, as the old surfaces had more time to “accumulate” such effects of small asteroids. In addition, models of artillery strength at different points in time play a role in determining the exact age.

According to these models, the most pristine areas of the Ulvara Crater are about 250 million years old. This time it shows the formation of the crater itself. The young surface in the crater contains a wide range of smooth, dark areas and pits, probably formed by the escape of gas underground.

Further clues to the crater’s turbulent past are provided by images taken using the camera system’s color filters. They make it possible to conclude which wavelength range of visible light a particular surface reflects in space, thus helping to infer their mineralogy composition. After all, the bright material is salt. Data from Dawn’s VIR spectrometer, contributed to the mission by the Italian space agency ASI, also show that organic compounds were deposited with salt on the western slopes of the Central Mountains. No such combination of salt deposits and organic compounds has been observed so far. The deposits of organic compounds also seem to be relatively young.

Dwarf planet Ceres: Urvara impact crater organic chemistry and salt deposits

White spots: Take a closer look at the mountains in the Ulvara Crater. The bright material identified as a salt deposit is on its southern flank. Credits: © MPS, based on Dawn Mission data: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

“The origin and formation of organic matter in Ceres remains an interesting open question that may have important implications for Ceres’ overall geological history and may be related to astrobiology and habitability. Ulvara in the Southern Hemisphere. The organic matter we believe found in the basin is an organic-rich region of the Ernutet Crater in the Northern Hemisphere, which helps answer these questions, “said NISER scientist Guneshwar Thangjam. “The team is working on these aspects using both FC and VIR spectral data,” he adds.

“Overall, the Ulvara Crater presents us with an apparently complex image that we do not yet fully understand and leave room for two interpretations,” Andreas Nathues summarizes the results. To do. For example, the impact that formed the Ulvara crater may have transported salt from the interior of the dwarf planet to the surface. However, some evidence suggests that instead salty salt water was involved, rising from the inside and initiating further processes. It is unknown whether the salt water has reached the surface of the earth or just accumulated just below it.

Regardless of the exact interpretation, the current result is Dwarf planet Dawn Mission recently portrayed Ceres: a geologically active body with saline layers extending at various depths beneath the crust. These may be related to the early underground oceans, which also contained organic compounds. Ceres is far from the Sun, but thanks to the dissolved salt, this salt water can still survive in a large liquid reservoir about 40 kilometers deep.


Traces of the icy crust of Ceres found in the Occat Crater


For more information:
Andreas Nathues et al, saltwater residues and organic matter in the Urvara basin of Ceres, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-022-28570-8

Provided by
Max Planck Society

Quote: Dwarf planet Ceres: https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-dwarf-planet-ceres-chemistry-salt.html Urvara impact crater acquired on February 22, 2022 (February 22, 2022) Sun) organic chemistry and salt deposits

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Urvara Impact Crater Organic Chemistry and Salt Deposits

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