The mineralogy and geochemistry of Ceres, as constrained by Dawn's instruments, are broadly consistent with a carbonaceous chondrite (CM/CI) bulk composition. Differences explainable by Ceres’s more advanced alteration include the formation of Mg-rich serpentine and ammoniated clay; a greater proportion of carbonate and lesser organic matter; amounts of magnetite, sulfide, and carbon that could act as spectral darkening agents; and partial fractionation of water ice and silicates in the interior and regolith. Ceres is not spectrally unique, but is similar to a few other C-class asteroids, which may also have suffered extensive alteration. All these bodies are among the largest carbonaceous chondrite asteroids, and they orbit in the same part of the Main Belt. Thus, the degree of alteration is apparently related to the size of the body. Although the ammonia now incorporated into clay likely condensed in the outer nebula, we cannot presently determine whether Ceres itself formed in the outer solar system and migrated inward or was assembled within the Main Belt, along with other carbonaceous chondrite bodies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science