Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is being observed by the spacecraft Dawn which arrived in the Spring.
The tiny sub-planet, which is found in the asteroid belt situated between Mars and Jupiter, has been found to have water ice on its crust, which points to more beneath the surface.
The study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, shows that Ceres is 10 percent water ice – which could point to the dwarf planet either currently being habitable, or was once habitable, experts say.
The discovery makes it one of many extraterrestrial bodies that have, or has had, water on it, including Mars, Saturn’s moons Europa and Enceladus, Jupiter’s moon Ganymede and another dwarf planet in Pluto.
Most scientists agree that the location of the water on the sub-planet massively increases the chances of finding life.
NASA has tried really hard to understand all the enigmas surrounding the dwarf planet Ceres.
Ever since the first image was beamed back by Dawn Spacecraft, scientists around the world have tried to explain all the mysteries about one of the most interesting dwarf planets in the solar system.
Scientists have previously spotted plumes of water vapour gushing from the asteroid raising hopes that it could harbour primitive forms of alien life beneath on the surface, or beneath its crust.
Dawn is currently 2,700 miles above the surface of Ceres and has been taking detailed pictures of the pock-marked surface.
Dawn spacecraft snapped pictures of the bizarre lights and recent studies appear to suggest they ‘blink’ at intervals of about nine hours.
These fluctuations were observed in a spectrograph taken by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Unsurprisingly, plenty of UFO hunters and space watchers see this as potential evidence of alien life.
Previously Dawn spent two months observing the asteroid’s neighbour Vesta, a minor planet which is the second-largest body in the asteroid belt.
Scientists have learned about the conditions at the beginning of the solar system by studying meteorites, broken off Vesta from asteroid strikes, which have then fallen to Earth.
However, there have been no such meteorites produced by Ceres, an indication that the two bodies are likely very different.
For example, Dawn found little evidence to indicate there is water on Vesta.
Ceres, unlike Vesta, might have a weak atmosphere and perhaps even life.
Ceres is the smallest known example of a class of bodies known as ‘dwarf planets’, a classification also given to Pluto following its demotion from full planet status in 2006.
With a diameter of around 590 miles across, Ceres is less than a third the size of the Moon.
It is roughly three times as far away from the Sun as the Earth but there could still be enough warmth to heat ice on the surface of the planet and turn it into water vapour.
Scientists have also speculated that there could be an energy source in the centre of the dwarf planet – much like Earth, which is heating up water beneath the surface.
Dawn, which launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2007, is the first NASA spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two celestial bodies beyond the moon.
NASA has also produced a one-minute video animation that sheds new light on this mysterious and heavily cratered world.
But what makes Ceres so unique?
Well, we could say that the mysterious bright lights that were spotted on the surface of Ceres are the most talked about the mystery surrounding Ceres.
The truth is that no one has been able to accurately explain what the mysterious lights are, what causes them, and why they are not present anywhere else.
The first high-resolution images of the surface of the dwarf planet arrived at Earth on January 19, 2015, and since then everyone started talking about the unique and mysterious features of Ceres.
Ok so, what do the lights look like? Well, to be honest, if you compare the image of the bright lights on Ceres to an image of a city on Earth, taken from Space, I’d say that the two look very much alike… It’s as if we are looking at an Alien City on Ceres… But optical illusion can play around with your mind. While no one can rule out at this point an alien city on Ceres, no one can rule out Pareidolia either.
Ceres’ bright spots aren’t the only thing anomalous that NASA has found.
Recently, experts have identified hat appears to be a giant pyramidal structure on the surface of the planet.
NASA has surprised us all with the images that will surely provide a lot to talk about among ufologists and researchers.
Ceres is a dwarf planet where almost everything is flat and deserted, but thanks to the newest images of the Dawn spacecraft, experts have found, in the middle of nowhere, a pyramidal structure standing tall and “proud”.
Ufologists believe that the bright spots on the surface of the dwarf planet have an extraterrestrial origin, something that has given several scientists a good subject to laugh about.
Yet, these same experts have no clue what causes the bright lights on Ceres. Several theories have been proposed ever since the Dawn spacecraft photographed the bright spots a couple of months ago, but so far none of the proposed theories has been accepted by the scientific community. Perhaps, after all, there is something ‘weird’ about Ceres.
These extraterrestrial illuminations became known as the “alien lights” of Ceres, fuelling wild internet speculation about their origin.But although conspiracy theorists have claimed the spot is everything from an alien city to a crashed spaceship, NASA’s new explanation is far more sober.
In a pair of studies in the respected science journal Nature, researchers used data from Ceres and suggested the weird glow was caused by light reflecting off the salty ice.
“Some UFO enthusiasts speculate that it is a signal. It could be a warning signal, a radar tower, or a greeting signal,” writes the space blog Latest UFO Sightings.
“Some members of the UFO community think that alien colonists created the bright spots on the dwarf planet.”
As the blog goes on to say, scientists, themselves have a theory – if not a definitive answer – on what causes the bright spots on Ceres to fluctuate.
An alternative idea, presented in a pair of studies in the respected science journal Nature, suggests the weird glow is caused by light reflecting off the salty ice.
Other theories suggest Ceres was actually formed way out in the furthest reaches of the solar system before gradually moving to its current place in the asteroid belt, colliding with other objects on the way.
We can’t know for sure but in the meantime, both scientists and conspiracy theorists are continuing to examine this fascinating member of our solar system.