This frame from an animation from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows a crater in the northern polar region of Ceres that is partly in shadow year-round, where bright water ice deposits have been observed in several craters.

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This animation of images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows a crater in the northern polar region of Ceres that is partly in shadow year-round. In several craters like this one, bright water ice deposits have been observed by Dawn's framing camera.

This finding suggests that water ice can be stored for significant amounts of time in cold, dark craters on Ceres. Such reservoirs are called "cold traps." At less than minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit (110 Kelvin), they are so chilly that very little of the ice turns into vapor in the course of a billion years.

These findings were published in a 2016 study in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, see http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission.

For more information about the Dawn mission, visit http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.

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