It’s roughly the size of France. As far as asteroids go (or former asteroids that have since been upgraded to dwarf planets), Ceres is a whopper. With an average diameter of around 950 kilometres (590 miles), it could easily span the whole of France.
Life could actually exist here. The discovery of water on Ceres has led to speculation that life could exist on this dwarf planet. However, there are some better candidates like Mars and the moons around Jupiter and Saturn existing within the Solar System. The prospect of finding life on other planetary bodies is tantalisingly close.
The surface is quite warm. At least compared to outer space. At its relatively close proximity to the Sun, the surface of Ceres hits a high of about -38 degrees Celsius (-36 degrees Fahrenheit) and at this temperature its icy volatiles sublimate into space.
It’s one third of the Asteroid Belt. Ceres is easily the most massive object in the Asteroid Belt, accounting for a third of its total mass. Its rocky, icy body weighs in at a whopping 900 million, trillion tons, over three-times that of its neighbour Vesta, the next most massive object occupying the Asteroid Belt.
Astronomers once thought Ceres was a planet. For nearly 50 years after it was discovered in January 1801, it was thought to be a new planet. This isn’t surprising, given that this huge celestial object occupies a gap between Mars and Jupiter.