Ceres: predictions for near-surface water ice stability and implications for plume generating processes

Geophysical Research Letters
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Abstract

This paper will constrain the possible sources and processes for the formation of recently observed H2O vapor plumes above the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. Two hypotheses have been proposed: (1) cryovolcanism where the water source is the mantle and the heating source is still unknown or (2) comet-like sublimation where near-surface water ice is vaporized by seasonally increasing solar insolation. We test hypothesis #2, comet-like near-surface sublimation, by using a thermal model to examine the stability of water-ice in the near surface. For a reasonable range of physical parameters (thermal inertia, surface roughness, slopes), we find that water ice is only stable at latitudes higher than ~40-60 degrees. These results indicate that either (a) the physical properties of Ceres are unlike our expectations or (b) an alternative to comet-like sublimation, such as the cryovolcanism hypothesis, must be invoked.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ceres: predictions for near-surface water ice stability and implications for plume generating processes
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2015GL063240
Volume 42
Issue 7
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 2130
Last page 2136
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N