The Surface Composition of Ceres from the Dawn Mission

Thomas B. McCord, Francesca Zambon

Available online 14 March 2018



• This article provides the context for “Ceres mineralogical mapping special issue”;
• We describe the global mineralogy of Ceres;
• A summary of all the special issue papers is reported.”

“Ceres’ surface composition is of special interest because it is a window into the interior state and the past evolution of this dwarf planet. Disk-integrated telescopic spectral observations indicated that Ceres’ surface is hydroxylated, similar to but not exactly the same as some of the carbonaceous chondrite classes of meteorites. Furthermore, Ceres’ bulk density is low, suggesting significant water content. The Dawn mission in orbit around Ceres provided a new and much larger set of observations on the mineralogy, molecular and elemental composition, and their distributions in association with surface features and geology. The set of articles contained in this special issue is the first treatment of the entire surface composition of Ceres using the complete High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO) Dawn Ceres data set and the calibrations from all the Dawn instruments. Most articles here treat the different geologic quadrangles of Ceres within the context of the entire body. There also are articles that treat global or technical topics. As a whole, these articles provide a current and comprehensive view of Ceres’ surface composition. Ceres’ surface composition shows a fairly uniform and widespread distribution of NH4- and Mg-phyllosilicates and carbonates, mixed with a dark component and with some exposures of salts and water-ice on Ceres’ surface, all indicative of the presence of aqueous alteration processes that involved the entire dwarf planet. There is also likely some contamination by low velocity infall, as seen on Vesta, but it is more difficult to distinguish this infall from native Ceres material, unlike for the Vesta case. This article introduces and provides the context for the following papers, presents a summary of the various findings, and integrates them into some general conclusions.”,