Once thought to be an asteroid when spotted in 1801, the since reclassified dwarf planet Ceres has long been the subject of scientific speculation concerning water in space. Previously, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was able to obtain images of two dark spots on the planet’s surface, thought to be locations where ice and water would melt and create vapor.
Last Wednesday, the Herschel space telescope of the European Space Agency (ESA) was able to, after a series of tests, detect water vapor as the planet neared the sun and, consequently, heated up. At this time, scientists are unsure where this water is forming and emitting from, whether it be an ocean under the surface of the planet, or small patches of water. In spring of 2015, hopefully answers will be discovered as Dawn, a NASA spacecraft, finds its way to Ceres.