A new planet? That’s right. Apparently, we’ve been ignoring Ceres (pronounced as series), a planet located between Mars and Jupiter, even though it was discovered over 100 years before Pluto in 1801. However, don’t add it to your solar system diorama just yet, it turns out that it is one of the five dwarf planets (others: Eris, Pluto, Makemake and Haumea). Despite it’s status,Dr. Marc Rayman told CNN that it is actually “the largest object between Mars and Jupiter, it is the largest object between the sun and Pluto that a spacecraft has not yet visited.” Ceres will be the first dwarf planet to be visited by a spacecraft. NASA will be sending the ship Dawn, which is set to arrive there March 6th. Through probes they have discovered craters and “mysterious bright spots.” These indicate that Ceres was a growing planet that may have reached the size of Jupiter, but nearly 4.6 billion years ago it’s growth was stunted likely due to several collisions with asteroids along the belt. Studying Ceres will help scientists better understand how the solar system was formed.
Contributor: Suriya Sharma