Exposed H2O-rich areas detected on Ceres with the dawn visible and infrared mapping spectrometer

Jean Philippe Combe, Andrea Raponi, Federico Tosi, Maria Cristina De Sanctis, Filippo Giacomo Carrozzo, Francesca Zambon, Eleonora Ammannito, Kynan H.G. Hughson, Andreas Nathues, Martin Hoffmann, Thomas Platz, Guneshwar Thangjam, Norbert Schorghofer, Stefan Schröder, Shane Byrne, Margaret E. Landis, Ottaviano Ruesch, Thomas B. McCord, Katherine E. Johnson, Sandeep Magar SinghCarol A. Raymond, Christopher T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


H2O-rich materials are locally exposed at the surface of Ceres as discovered from infrared reflectance spectra of the Visible and InfraRed mapping spectrometer (VIR) of the Dawn mission. Nine locations on Ceres exhibit diagnostic absorption bands of the H2O molecule at 2.00, 1.65 and 1.28 µm. The detections are all consistent with H2O ice mixed with low-albedo components. All the reported H2O exposures occur at latitudes poleward of 30° in fresh craters near rim shadows, have a surface area < 7 km2, and are associated with one or more surface features such as a morphological flow or landslide, fractures, high albedo, or a pole-facing slope (one case is confirmed to be adjacent to persistent shadow). In four occurrences, these detections are associated with small (< 0.1 km2) high-albedo areas that can be recognized in high-resolution imagery (∼35 m/pixel) from the Framing Camera (FC). Since all these observations are compatible with an H2O-rich subsurface, the replenishment of surficial H2O likely comes from the ice that is present underneath. In four other occurrences, H2O is detected on walls and floors of fresh impact craters, either in the shadow or adjacent to shadows, which suggests that local thermodynamical conditions may also favor the concentration of H2O in these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-41
Number of pages20
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019


  • Dwarf planet Ceres
  • Exposed HO ice
  • Reflectance spectroscopy
  • Surface composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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