Salty source of Ceres’ mysterious bright spots found | Science News

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Salty source of Ceres’ mysterious bright spots found

Ammonia from farther out in solar system hints at dwarf planet’s origins

1:00pm, December 9, 2015
Occator crater on Ceres

SALT SPOTS  Occator crater on Ceres displays a variety of compositions in this false color image from the Dawn spacecraft. The bright spots are salt patches from an exposed subsurface briny ice layer.

Bright patches of salt on the dwarf planet Ceres hint at a subsurface layer of briny water ice. Ammonia-laden minerals also suggest that Ceres was at least partially assembled from material hauled in from the outskirts of the solar system, researchers report online December 9 in two papers in Nature.

Reflective spots on Ceres have been one of the enduring mysteries of the Dawn mission (SN Online: 9/10/15), which arrived at the dwarf planet March 6 (SN: 4/4/15, p. 9). During its visit, the spacecraft has cataloged more

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