Do You Think You Could Ride Ahuna Mons, The Largest Mountain On The Asteroid Ceres?

Credit: Dawn MissionNASAJPL-CaltechUCLA, MPS/DLR/IDA
It has been said that if a person can ski the east, they can ski anywhere? Why? Well, the snow in the east, at any given time, could actually just be hard parked granular snow or bullet-proof ice. With that said, if one can ski the east, they can ski the solar system.

Now, will one actually be able to ski this mountain? No, of course not. This mountain is Ahuna Mons, the largest mountain on the largest known asteroid in our solar system. The Ceres asteroid is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA released news this week of the mountain, which they say "is like nothing humanity has ever seen before". This news comes from data sent back to NASA from the now completed robotic Dawn mission. The mission, completed last year, also sent back surface maps, which is how the image above was created.

From the data collected, which continues to be analyzed by NASA scientists, they now have a theory as to how this mountain was formed. From a NASA press release;

"For one thing, its slopes are garnished not with old craters but young vertical streaks. The new hypothesis, based on numerous gravity measurements, holds that a bubble of mud rose from deep within the dwarf planet and pushed through the icy surface at a weak point rich in reflective salt -- and then froze. The bright streaks are thought to be similar to other recently surfaced material such as visible in Ceres' famous bright spots."

Though the description of a mountain as an icy, frozen, mud hill is about the same as a mountain during the late winter/early spring in New England, this mountain is much, much bigger. The summit of this mountain is at about 12,000 feet.

So, if we are all still around when technology can get us to Ceres for a ski trip, this hill might be one to put on the skiing/riding to-do list.


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