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HubbleSite Largest Asteroid May Be 'Mini Planet' with Water Ice

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Space Telescope Science

Observations of Ceres, the largest known asteroid, have revealed that the object may be a "mini planet," sharing many characteristics of the rocky, terrestrial planets like Earth. Ceres' mantle, which wraps around the asteroid's core, may even be composed of water ice. The observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope also show that the asteroid has a nearly round shape like Earth's and may have a rocky inner core and a thin, dusty outer crust. Astronomers enhanced the sharpness in these images to bring out features on Ceres' surface, including brighter amd darker regions that could be asteroid impact features. The observations were made in visible and ultraviolet light between December 2003 and January 2004.

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