You thought those bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres were cool? That was only the half of it. Ceres is also covered in dark spots, craters that—because of their position—never see the light of day. Now, astronomers have discovered that at least one and perhaps many of these shadowy regions are filled with water ice.
Ceres’ bright spots have captivated imaginations for more than a year, ever since NASA’s Dawn spacecraft began approaching the dwarf planet in the spring of 2015. Initially, scientists suspected the bright spots were made of ice, but the first good spectral data from Dawn revealed otherwise. The bright spots are actually giant piles of salt, dashing our hopes that Ceres might one day serve as an interplanetary gas station.
But now, evidence has emerged that water ice could be widespread on the surface of Ceres, after all. It’s just been hiding from us, according to Norbert Schorghofer of the University of Hawaii, who presented his research on Ceres’ “persistently shadowed regions” in a talk at the American Geophysical Union Conference this morning. The research, which was led by Thomas Platz of the Max Planck Institute, also appears today in Nature Astronomy.
“There are over 600 persistently shadowed regions on Ceres,” Schorghofer said, noting that these shadowlands are mostly associated with craters near the dwarf planet’s poles. “I call it Ceres’ darkest secret.”
Because persistently shadowed regions, by definition, get no sunlight, they’re considered “cold traps,” meaning they suck ice and water vapor in and keep it locked away forever. That is exactly what has happened in at least one dark crater near Ceres’ north pole.
During its flyovers of the north pole, the Dawn’s Framing Camera was able to capture enough scattered light from this crater—unimaginatively called PSR2, though I prefer Narnia—to “see” inside of it. What it saw was a giant sheet of water ice.
So far, PSR2 is the only dark spot which we’ve been able to peer into, but there could be others like it. “We assume other bright deposits in shadowed regions are water ice as well,” Schorghofer said. Other planets like Mercury feature water ice in virtually every cold trap on their surface.
Where the ice on the surface of Ceres originated is still a matter of debate, although the dark spots may be connected to the bright spots. Scientists suspect that the salt heaps found in craters like Occator (shown in the video above) were excavated from a subsurface brine layer during ancient impacts. Initially, those impacts would have brought a mix of water and ice to the surface. It’s possible that over time water escaped the bright spots, bounced around the planet, and eventually got sucked into Ceres’ cold traps.
It’s no surprise that Ceres’ dazzling bright spots captured our attention during the Dawn mission. But never let anyone say they’re the only cool thing about Ceres. After all, as soon as humans start traveling beyond Earth’s orbit, water is going to become the most precious resource in the solar system.
Luke Brett Moore, a young Australian, had just lost his job when he discovered his bank was mistakenly allowing him unlimited credit. It was too good an opportunity to miss. As he explains here, in his own words, he started spending and didn’t stop – until one day there was a knock on the door.
It seems unbelievable but my intention was never to take all the money from the St George Bank and not pay it back.
I was essentially waiting for the bank to contact me and say: “Hey you, I want this amount of money” and I would have gone from there.
Originally, in 2010, I just had a normal everyday banking account. My home loan, my health insurance and bills were coming out of it.
I had had a pretty bad car accident and my pay started going into another bank. I can’t remember the exact circumstances of why that happened.
The first week I was worried as there was no money to pay the mortgage. What was I going to do? But then the payment went through from my St George account and I thought, “Oh, OK.”
And then the next fortnight the next $500 (£296) payment of my mortgage went through. It went on and on like that for 12 months without the bank saying anything, but my account was becoming overdrawn
Listen to Luke Brett Moore’s interview on Outlook, on the BBC World Service
About that time I rang my home loan company and said, “Hey, can you direct-debit $5,000 (£3,000) from my St George account?” And then a couple of days later I said $50,000. They were both approved.
I was shocked. I had found myself with access to an extraordinary large line of credit.
I bought my first car not long afterwards – an Alfa Romeo 156. It was the dodgiest car: the gearbox, motor and fuel injectors all went in it.
Then I got a Hyundai Veloster. It was one of those crazy three-door things with a glass roof. I bought that so I could drive to Sydney to buy a Maserati. It was only a $36,000 car. I mean it was a lovely car but it wasn’t a supercar by today’s standards.
It was a crazy time for me. I was a young and foolish 22-year-old and I wasn’t thinking particularly clearly.
I had just recovered from the accident and found myself unemployed for the first time since I was 14. I had broken up with my high school sweetheart after four years and I was looking to sort of start my life fresh somewhere else.
So I moved to Gold Coast. I flew up to Surfer’s Paradise one weekend for a holiday. And I got comfortable there and ending up staying.
It was pretty awesome. I had a good time up there that’s for sure. I was just doing what most young guys do when they’re that age and they’ve got a bucket load of cash – just having fun and partying.
I went to strip clubs and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on girls, alcohol, cocaine and whatever else.
I also got a fishing boat. I loved that. I got a £10 note by street artist Banksy. That was one of my treasured possessions, along with a drum skin signed by Amy Winehouse.
Every time I requested St George to lend me more money I wasn’t particularly expecting them to, but they did.
I think at first maybe my mother thought I was dealing drugs but then I think it become quite clear that that’s not what I was doing. People learned fairly quickly around me, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
I had a business up in Surfer’s Paradise. I was running a shop selling goods. The media said my bedroom was an Aladdin’s cave of treasures, but a lot of that stuff I was selling in my shop. There was to some extent a business idea behind everything that I was doing.
The fall and rise of Luke Brett Moore
March 2010: Opens an account with St George Bank
July 2010 to August 2012: Makes more than 50 withdrawals, apparently totalling $1,988,535.25
December 2012: Police raid Moore’s family home in Goulburn, New South Wales, but he is released on bail
February 2015: Found guilty of obtaining financial benefit by deception and dealing with the proceeds of crime in Sydney District Court
April 2015: Sentenced to between two years and three months and four years and six months in jail
August 2015: Bail is granted after Moore represents himself in court
December 2016: New South Wales Criminal Court of Appeal quashes his conviction
Then [in 2012] I was sitting in my bedroom back at home with my mum in Goulburn when I hear banging on the window. By the time I got to the front door the police were inside. They pretty much had my mother pushed up against a wall and were shoving a video camera in my face. They were all armed like they thought I might be a mad gangster.
They were yelling and telling me I was under arrest and they went through the house and took everything that I’d ever owned.
They arrested me and took me to the police station. The police originally refused me bail so I spent the night in the Goulburn cells. The next day I got granted bail by a magistrate in court.
A couple of years later I was found guilty of obtaining financial advantage by deception and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime. I was sentenced for a maximum of four-and-a-half years.
I was never expecting to go to jail and thought I’d be found innocent. But I had to get lawyers through legal aid, which is grossly underfunded in Australia. They weren’t interested in the case, didn’t want to defend the case and clearly didn’t do a very good job of it at trial.
It was horrible in jail. You’re away from your family and locked in a cell for 17 hours a day. The food is pretty dodgy and you’re associating with some pretty rough people.
In some ways I was blessed because the type of crime I was in there for was not something that anyone in prison is going to hold against you.
I spent six months there, and it was the toughest time in my life. From the first day I was there I was trying to get out.
I read as many law books as I could and about as many cases as I could. I read the Bail Act and the Crimes Act and pieced together my case.
My first objective, though, was to get bail. This was very difficult at the time  following too many cases of guys on bail committing really bad crimes.
You needed to first establish special and exceptional circumstances and then you needed to establish that you weren’t a risk to the community and that you weren’t a flight risk.
I had to represent myself because legal aid wouldn’t fund my bail application. But I managed to get it.
By the time it all went to court I was so prepared with all my arguments and everything all I basically did was give the barrister that represented me my paperwork and said: “Look, here it is. Here’s the argument. It’s black and white.”
In the end the legal argument as far as the criminal charges were concerned was quite simple.
I was acquitted a few weeks ago. As far as the law is concerned in Australia at the moment I had no legal obligation to inform the Bank of what was going on.
The judge said I was dishonest, but we don’t live in a society where moral wrongs result in people being locked up behind bars and their liberty taken away from them.
I was just unlucky I guess that it happened to me.
From all the comments on social media it seems that many other young and foolish people would’ve done the exact same thing. However, given the opportunity, I wouldn’t do it again. It devastated my life and family and it wasn’t worth a couple of good months with the strippers and some cocaine.
My whole life was nearly ruined. It’s only now that I’ve been able to turn my experience in to a positive. I’m currently studying law at university and will be a criminal lawyer in two years’ time.
My six months behind bars gave me a unique perspective on jail. A lot of the people in there need help not incarceration.
So my idea is to essentially assist these people and sort of try to get more funding directed towards drug rehabilitation, counselling and education as opposed to more money to build more jails.
On Friday, when the hospital chaplain asked Raul Hinojosa for his final wish, the cancer-wracked patient just said, “I want to marry her.”
His longtime fiancee, Yvonne Lamas, told CNN, “I looked around the room, and said ‘Who?’ That was just the way we played.”
Let’s do it, the chaplain said, and she left to get people to help make a dying wish into reality.
Family and hospital staff hurried to put a wedding together. One of the hospital’s chaplains took Lamas to the courthouse to acquire a marriage license. When they arrived, the judge waived the typical 72-hour waiting period, Lamas said.
The director of the critical care unit — who never wears a coat and tie to work, but had that morning after going to see his daughter’s Christmas program at school — shed his suit and gave it to Raul to wear for the ceremony, she said.
Cooks in the hospital’s cafeteria baked a wedding cake, and relatives ran out to get a dress for Lamas.
“It was a perfect fit,” said Angie Paiz, Raul’s aunt.
After Hinojosa was admitted to a critical care unit in Amarillo, Texas, in late October, Lamas had spent every day at his side, balancing his needs with the needs of their children at home.
Hinojosa and Lamas had been together for 11 years. “He was very respectful, very romantic and always wanted to give me the world,” Lamas said. “He knew how to put a smile on my face no matter the situation.”
They have a son who is 9, and Lamas has three daughters from a previous marriage, but Hinojosa took them in as if they were his own.
“As a father figure he was very loving, very caring to my kids,” Lamas said. “He gave them the world and was there for them when times were tough.”
“He was a good person. He was a giving person,” Paiz told CNN. He worked hard to provide for his family, picking up odd jobs even after he got sick because he couldn’t keep a steady one.
Hinojosa proposed in 2007, but he and Lamas had been waiting to marry.
“He was determined to give me the best fairytale wedding,” Lamas said. “He tried saving up, but within that time he ended up getting diagnosed with the leukemia.”
Hospital bills stacked up, and it started to look as if their dreams would never be realized.
But within a couple of hours, thanks to the collective effort of family and the hospital staff, the wedding was ready.
Nursing staff lined up outside the hospital room, and Lamas was escorted down the makeshift aisle by her father.
“When I walked down the aisle and saw him in the suit, he just took my breath away,” Lamas said. “He was so handsome. It was priceless.”
Her father delicately placed Lamas’ hand in Hinojosa’s, and the chaplain choked back tears as she recounted their story. “When this illness was diagnosed,” she said, “Yvonne promised she would never leave him. She would be with him. They would do this together.”
With his wife-to-be on his left and his son on his right, Hinojosa recited his vows.
With their children, family and friends gathered around them, Hinojosa and Lamas were finally married.
Hinojosa, 33, died of leukemia on Saturday, just 36 hours later.
When she signed her husband’s death certificate, it was the first time Lamas had signed her married name.