Andy's Wiki
Solar System Scratchpad

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Dwarf Planets

  • Ceres - First body in the asteroid belt discovered, at first thought to be the eight planet, then redesignated the largest asteroid, and later a dwarf planet due to its roundness. It is the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. Composed mainly of water ice. Second destination for the Dawn spacecraft.


  • Vesta - The largest protoplanet in the asteroid belt, not big enough to be completely rounded and thus not a Dwarf Planet like Ceres. Brightest object in asteroid belt as seen from Earth. One of few asteroids to have a differentiated composition. Has basaltic lava flows on surface, very similar to that of Earth's Moon. Has a large crater that caused trenches to appear across its equator and only a partial rim due to its fast rotation. This impact over the south polar region could be responsible for the many members of the Vesta family in the solar system and the large amount of meteoroids that arrive at the Earth, where it is the source of 5% of its meteoroids. Orbits in inner asteroid belt, below the frost belt, and lacks water ice that further asteroids possess.
  • Pallas - Second object in asteroid belt to be discovered and third protoplanet recognised. Appears to be the largest irregularly shaped object in the solar system, larger than fellow protoplanet Vesta, but not as massive. Hubble identified color variations and features that could be linked to its thermal evolution. Orbit is unusually inclined, making it particularly inaccessible to spacecraft. Axis is extremely tilted so that much of body experiences half-year long days. Two satellite sightings have been reported, but later refuted. Has large crater from an impact that may have created the Pallas family of asteroids. The Dawn mission could flyby the asteroid if extended.