LPL Colloquium: Dr. Jennifer Scully
The Formation and Evolution of Ceres' Occator Crater and its Bright Faculae
Dr. Jennifer Scully
NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The distinctive bright regions within Occator crater are one of the most remarkable discoveries of the Dawn mission’s exploration of Ceres. The central region is named Cerealia Facula and the additional regions in the eastern crater floor are named Vinalia Faculae. Here I will summarize and synthesize the results of a recently published Icarus special issue, which aimed to identify the driving forces behind the formation of Occator and the faculae, and thus lead us to a new understanding of the processes and conditions that occurred in Ceres’ past, and potentially in its present. The investigations to be summarized and synthesized in this talk used Dawn data, theoretical modeling and laboratory experiments to deduce the sequence of events that led to the formation of Occator, Cerealia Facula and Vinalia Faculae. Cerealia Facula and Vinalia Faculae are the brightest and freshest of the bright regions identified on Ceres’ surface. Bright regions darken over time until their eventual erasure. Thus, it is likely that faculae formation has occurred throughout Ceres’ history, but that Occator’s faculae are visible today because they are geologically young. Entirely exogenic driving forces, triggered by the impact, or a combination of endogenic and impact-derived forces could explain the formation of Occator and its faculae. Whether activity is impact-triggered and/or endogenic in nature is a key question for all investigations of Ceres, and future studies may favor one possibility over the other. I will also present the beginnings of these future studies, which are utilizing the latest, high resolution images of Occator crater and the faculae (on the order of ~10 m/pixel) returned during the final stages of the Dawn mission.
Host: Dr. Michael Sori