Prior to the arrival of the Dawn spacecraft at Ceres, the dwarf planet was anticipated to be ice-rich. Searches for morphological features related to ice have been ongoing during Dawn's mission at Ceres. Here we report the identification of pitted terrains associated with fresh Cerean impact craters. The Cerean pitted terrains exhibit strong morphological similarities to pitted materials previously identified on Mars (where ice is implicated in pit development) and Vesta (where the presence of ice is debated). We employ numerical models to investigate the formation of pitted materials on Ceres and discuss the relative importance of water ice and other volatiles in pit development there. We conclude that water ice likely plays an important role in pit development on Ceres. Similar pitted terrains may be common in the asteroid belt and may be of interest to future missions motivated by both astrobiology and in situ resource utilization.
- ground ice
- pitted terrain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)