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Ceres, formally 1 Ceres, is the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System, and the largest asteroid. It is a rock–ice body some 950 km (590 mi) in diameter, and though the smallest identified dwarf planet, it constitutes a third of the mass of the asteroid belt. Discovered on 1 January 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, it was the first asteroid to be identified, though it was classified as a planet at the time. It is named after Ceres, the Roman goddess of growing plants, the harvest, and motherly love.

The Cererian surface is probably a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clays. It appears to be differentiated into a rocky core and icy mantle, and may harbour an ocean of liquid water under its surface. From Earth, the apparent magnitude of Ceres ranges from 6.7 to 9.3, and hence even at its brightest it is still too dim to be seen with the naked eye except under extremely dark skies. The unmanned Dawn spacecraft, launched on 27 September 2007 by NASA, is expected to be the first to explore Ceres after its scheduled arrival there in 2015, after the spacecraft leaves the asteroid 4 Vesta, which it has been orbiting since July 2011.

Ceres on Wikipedia

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