The brittle boulders of dwarf planet CeresOPEN ACCESS 

Stefan Schröder, Uri Carsenty, Ernst Hauber, Carol Raymond, Christopher Russell

Accepted by the Planetary Science Journal


Update (15 June 2021): The Planetary Science Journal, Volume 2, Number 3

“We mapped all boulders larger than 105 m on the surface of dwarf planet Ceres using images of the Dawn framing camera acquired in the Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO). We find that boulders on Ceres are more numerous towards high latitudes and have a maximum lifetime of 150±50 Ma, based on crater counts. These characteristics are distinctly different from those of boulders on asteroid (4) Vesta, an earlier target of Dawn, which implies that Ceres boulders are mechanically weaker. Clues to their properties can be found in the composition of Ceres’ complex crust, which is rich in phyllosilicates and salts. As water ice is though to be present only meters below the surface, we suggest that boulders also harbor ice. Furthermore, the boulder size-frequency distribution is best fit by a Weibull distribution rather than the customary power law, just like for Vesta boulders. This finding is robust in light of possible types of size measurement error.”