Formation and Evolution of Bright Spots on Ceres
I am a student collaborator on the Dawn Mission, which is a spacecraft currently orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres. Ceres represents a transition between the rocky bodies of the inner solar system and icy bodies of the outer solar system. By understanding the processes that shape its surface and subsurface, we can better constrain its development and evolution. The surface of Ceres is dotted with hundreds of anomalously bright, carbonate-bearing areas that are usually associated with impact craters. I work with Bethany Ehlmann to study the formation of these bright spots. I recently published a paper cataloging the bright spots and discussing hypotheses for how they formed and are modified over time (see below). Now I am using data from Dawn's VIR instrument in combination with computational modeling of impact fluxes to understand how long Na-carbonate has been in Ceres' shallow subsurface and how it got there. A publication on this work is forthcoming. You can read more here.