The dwarf planet Ceres: Which is the first dwarf planet to be orbited by a spacecraft from the Earth? Yes, it is Ceres. This is most probably because of the dwarf planet’s proximity to the Earth. Dawn, a space probe launched by NASA entered Ceres orbit on 6th March of 2015. The dawn revealed a lot more than what we knew about this dwarf planet. Well,w e now know that Ceres is a dwarf planet, but it was not considered so before. Let’s have a brief voyage through the history and factors associated with the dwarf planet Ceres.
The Dwarf Planet Ceres: History
Ceres formed almost with the rest of the Solar system somewhere 4.5 billion years ago. The formation of this planet was due to the gravitational force that pulled in the swirling gas and the dust. Though the dwarf planet began its formation a few billion years back, it didn’t somehow finish the process. Scientists believe that the stronger gravitational force of Jupiter prevented Ceres from developing itself into a fully formed planet. Due to this very reason, Ceres is considered as an “embryonic planet”.
Though existed in our Solar System for several millions of years, Ceres was first spotted by humans only in 1801. Giuseppe Piazzi assumed Ceres as the missing planet between Mars and Jupiter when he first spotted it. Later, astronomers noticed Pallas, Juno, Vesta (they were also called planets once) and many other similar bodies. This is the time when they started thinking of reclassifying these objects. In 1860, scientists identified 62 different bodies in the space between Mars and Jupiter and by 1863 the astronomers decided to classify these objects as asteroids. They also named the area filled with these objects as asteroid belt.
After several years, when Pluto was classified as a dwarf planet, astronomers considered to further discuss and decide about Ceres. Thus in 2006, Ceres was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
The Dwarf Planet Ceres: More Facts
There are a lot more interesting facts about this dwarf planet. Here, we are sharing with you a few major facts about Ceres.
Fact 1: Size and Location
The dwarf planet Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt. It has a radius of 476 kilometers, which is just 1/13 the radius of our planet. Ceres is considered to be 2.8 astronomical distance (AU) away from the Sun. 1 AU is the distance from Earth to the Sun. Staying at this 2.8 AU from the Sun, Ceres receives Sunlight after 22 minutes from its source. Ceres is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in the Solar System.
Fact 2: Orbit and Rotation
Ceres takes 4.6 Earth years to complete an orbit around the Sun. An year on Ceres is much longer than that of an year on Earth. However, Ceres has one of the shortest days in our Solar system. It completes a rotation in just 9 hours.
Fact 3: Potential for life
If not Mars, in Ceres! Ceres is one of those space objects where scientists believe life exists or life can exist. The reason for this consideration is just because of the presence of water in this planet. It is expected that this dwarf planet is composed of almost 25% of water, and if so, Ceres has more water than that in Earth.
Fact 4: Ceres Moons
Well, Ceres does not have any moons.
Fact 5: Ceres Rings
Not only moons, Ceres does not have any rings either.
Fact 6: What about magnetosphere?
Scientists believe that the dwarf planet has no magnetosphere.
Fact 7: The name
The dwarf planet is named after the Roman Goddess – Ceres. Ceres, the goddess, is the goddess of corn and harvest.