The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced that the Dawn detector controls fuel that shows that it is exhausted that it can not operate its main antenna to Earth or direct its solar cells to the sun. Due to a lack of mobility, the mission "Dawn" officially ended. "Dawn" is still in Ceres orbit and will remain for decades.
So, would you have to send the Earth to the new village of Ceres? What is the main task of the new messenger? On November 6, the US Space Network drew attention to the report.
You must go deep into the surface of Ceres
"Dawn" found that the surface of Ceres is dotted with hundreds of unusual climaxes, lots of water ice and organic molecules (the basic components of life). But at the end of the Dawn mission, scientists still have much bigger doubts that have not yet been clarified. Paul Schenk, a scientist involved in the Ceres mission and a member of the University Space Research Association under the Luna and Planet Institute, said: "In order to solve these problems, it may be necessary to go deep into the Ceres surface because information obtained from orbit is still limited. "
Let's focus on the Okato crater
Schenk said he hoped the detector would be sent to explore the cemetery crater. The image carried out by Dawn in October 2016 shows the light area on Ceres, just before the crater. The crater is 92 kilometers wide and contains the largest and brightest bright spots on Ceres and contains salt deposits – sediments left by saline water that freezes from the ground and freezes on the surface. This discovery reveals that the interior of Ceres is warmer than the thoughts of scientists.
In addition, the most common mineral in the Crater is the sodium carbonate, which is often found in places with hydrothermal activities on Earth (including Yellowstone National Park, etc.). Schenk said: "It is well known that certain bacteria can survive in these places."
He also said that the survival of microbes on Ceres is "very unlikely" because the heat produced by the effect lasts for a lifetime. It is important to know that the first forms of life appeared 700 million years after the creation of the Earth. "This type of impact produces enough hot melted ice and produces groundwater, which then circulates in the center. But tens of thousands to millions of years the hot zone is hidden and the water continues to freeze."
Schenk said that Ceres's living habitat or not, the hydrothermal process we can see, can help scientists understand similar processes on other celestial bodies in the solar system, such as wood, most likely to be extraterrestrial in the solar system. Wei Er, Titan. Like bacteria living in deep-water hydrothermal scopes of the Earth, organisms with similar properties on other celestial bodies may not need sunlight, but can safely avoid geothermal energy to survive.
As far as Ceres is concerned, it appears that other large space rocks have been hit by a source of geothermal energy. Schenck said: "The hydrothermal reaction between the impactor and water will obviously shape the minerals on the surface of Ceres, understand how this process works on other planets, including Mars, and how these materials reach the surface, etc. In order to understand the whole solar system. The hydrothermal process is very important. Although we have a lot of information on this planet, the chemical properties of the Earth's crust are very different from those in Ceres. "
Landing and hosting on Ceres
Schenk said that because the Okato Crater has some of the conditions required for life to appear on other celestial bodies, many scientists hope to send a lander to Ceres for further exploration. In the future, each future task will include a small rover.
"Dawn" can only study Ceres from orbit and its closest orbital height to Ceres is 35 kilometers, but the detectors that land on Ceres surface can be obtained by extraction of samples and in situ analysis or in space vessels to obtain more on Ceres composition. Informations.
Schenck said that the Dawn detector uses a spectrometer to determine the elemental composition on the surface of the planet, but the results of the measurement are "mainly dominated by materials that are spectrally active and capable of revealing absorption bands of specific wavelengths" while carbon materials Such a measurement is not well displayed and likely to become "fish nets." "So we may have to land on the surface to find it."
In fact, already in 2008, scientists began to prepare a preliminary plan for the next research mission Ceres. The proposed mission, called Ceres Polar Lander, plans to send Ceres a combination of an orbiter to land in the Arctic arctic for life. The mission intends to use NASA's soft-landing technology to prepare for landing on Mars. European Thales Alenia Aerospace and a research team at the Nantes University in France presented the concept of a mission at a conference on European planetary science.
There are currently no space agencies that intend to send new Ceres missions, but this situation can change because "Dawn" has already retired. However, Schenck said that every research mission Ceres proposed by NASA should be reviewed after a long review. At the same time, scientists have a lot of data from "Dawn" to be reviewed. "We just start to understand Ceres, it takes some time to figure out what we saw."