Ceres: The Dwarf Planet

Ceres: The Dwarf Planet

Top of Mind with Julie Rose

Homelessness, Filk Music, Peanut Allergies, Election Conflict

Episode: Homelessness, Filk Music, Peanut Allergies, Election Conflict

  • Mar 5, 2015 10:00 pm
  • 20:52 mins

(19:33) Guests: Denise Stephens, Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at BYU  Jani Radebaugh, Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at BYU  There is an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and in that asteroid belt, is something that’s not quite an asteroid, but not quite a planet either. It’s a dwarf planet called Ceres and this Friday, a NASA spacecraft will enter its orbit.  Ceres is exciting to astronomers because it’s the largest unexplored world in our region of the solar system. What’s it made of? What are those unusually bright spots scientists have spotted in their telescopes? We’ll start getting some answers in a matter of days when the spacecraft that’s been travelling for more than seven years finally gets close enough to enter Ceres’ orbit and starts snapping pictures.  “These few dwarf planets are just the tip of the iceberg of what could be out there,” says Stephens.  “It should be more about physical characteristics: is there a heat source? We should look more about what they are physically doing and less about what they look like,” says Stephens.