April 12, 2022
But what does all this
research mean and where do we go from here?
Before the Dawn mission, the nature of Ceres had remained mysterious, although the dwarf planet's large water content had been known since the 1970s.
The recent investigation
of Ceres by Dawn revealed tremendous similarities between Ceres and
the outer solar system icy moons and dwarf planets, such as an
ice-rich crust, expressions of cryovolcanic activity,
and the occurrence of organics and salts.
The presence of liquid
and organic matter in Ceres bears important implications for
astrobiology and even more so as Ceres may be representative of the
population of outer solar system bodies that brought in volatiles
and organics to the terrestrial planets.
After an overview of the Dawn mission, this book synthesizes various aspects of Dawn's discoveries, including,
The astrobiological significance of Ceres inferred from this new knowledge is then addressed.
The book concludes with a
summary of open questions and motivations for follow-on research and