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Ceres (dwarf planet) facts for kids

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Ceres Ceres symbol.svg
Discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi
Discovery date January 1, 1801
MPC designation 1 Ceres
A899 OF; 1943 XB
dwarf planet
main belt
Orbital characteristics
Epoch November 26, 2005
(JD 2453700.5)
Aphelion 447,838,164 km
2.987 AU
Perihelion 381,419,582 km
2.544 AU
414,703,838 km
2.765 956 424 AU
Eccentricity 0.07976017
1679.819 days
4.599 years
17.882 km/s
Inclination 10.586712°
Physical characteristics
Mean radius
473 km
Flattening 0.067 ± 0.005
Mass 9.46 ± 0.04×1020 kg
Mean density
2.08 g/cm3
Equatorial surface gravity
0.27 m/s²
0.028 g
Equatorial escape velocity
0.51 km/s
0.3781 d
9.074 h
0.113 (geometric)
Surface temp. min mean max
Kelvin ~167 K 239 K
6.7 to 9.32
Angular diameter
0.84" to 0.33"

Ceres, also known as 1 Ceres, is the smallest dwarf planet in the Solar System and the only one in the main asteroid belt.

It was discovered on 1 January 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi, and is named after the Roman goddess Ceres, as the goddess of growing plants, the harvest, and of motherly love. After about 200 years from its discovery, the International Astronomical Union decided to upgrade Ceres from an asteroid (or minor planet) to dwarf planetary status in 2006.

With a diameter of about 950 km, Ceres is by far the largest and most massive object in the asteroid belt, and has about a third of the belt's total mass. It was once thought to be smaller than Vesta, which is brighter. The asteroid is spherical, unlike the irregular shapes of smaller bodies with lower gravity. At its brightest it is still too dim to be seen with the naked eye.

On September 27, 2007, NASA launched the Dawn space probe to explore Ceres and Vesta. In 2015, Dawn became the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet, arriving at Ceres a few months before NASA's New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto, another dwarf planet.

Ceres has an unusual crater, Occator which contains bright salts.

Images for kids

PIA22477 fig1-DwarfPlanet-Ceres-Dawn-CerealiaFacula-20180622b
Close up image of bright salts, imaged by the Dawn spacecraft, in the crater Occator on Ceres.

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