GAUSS – genesis of asteroids and evolution of the solar systemOPEN ACCESS 

A sample return mission to Ceres

Xian Shi, Julie Castillo-Rogez, Henry Hsieh, Hejiu Hui, Wing-Huen Ip, Hanlun Lei, Jian-Yang Li, Federico Tosi, Liyong Zhou, Jessica Agarwal, Antonella Barucci, Pierre Beck, Adriano Campo Bagatin, Fabrizio Capaccioni, Andrew J. Coates, Gabriele Cremonese, Rene Duffard, Manuel Grande, Ralf Jaumann, Geraint H. Jones, Esa Kallio, Yangting Lin, Olivier Mousis, Andreas Nathues, Jürgen Oberst, Holger Sierks, Stephan Ulamec, Mingyuan Wang & The GAUSS Team

Experimental Astronomy (2021), Published: 15 October 2021


“The goal of Project GAUSS (Genesis of Asteroids and evolUtion of the Solar System) is to return samples from the dwarf planet Ceres. Ceres is the most accessible candidate of ocean worlds and the largest reservoir of water in the inner Solar System. It shows active volcanism and hydrothermal activities in recent history. Recent evidence for the existence of a subsurface ocean on Ceres and the complex geochemistry suggest past habitability and even the potential for ongoing habitability. GAUSS will return samples from Ceres with the aim of answering the following top-level scientific questions:

  • What is the origin of Ceres and what does this imply for the origin of water and other volatiles in the inner Solar System?
  • What are the physical properties and internal structure of Ceres? What do they tell us about the evolutionary and aqueous alteration history of dwarf planets?
  • What are the astrobiological implications of Ceres? Is it still habitable today?
  • What are the mineralogical connections between Ceres and our current collections of carbonaceous meteorites?”