Dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and the only dwarf planet located in the inner solar system. It was the first member of the asteroid belt to be discovered when Giuseppe Piazzi spotted it in 1801. And when Dawn arrived in 2015, Ceres became the first dwarf planet to receive a visit from a spacecraft.
Called an asteroid for many years, Ceres is so much bigger and so different from its rocky neighbors that scientists classified it as a dwarf planet in 2006. Even though Ceres comprises 25 percent of the asteroid belt's total mass, tiny Pluto is still 14 times more massive.
Ceres is named for the Roman goddess of corn and harvests. The word cereal comes from the same name. Explore Ceres ›
Ceres’ radius is just 296 miles (476 km). If Earth were the size of a nickel, Ceres would be about as big as a poppy seed.
Orbits the Sun
Ceres takes 1,682 Earth days, or 4.6 Earth years, to make one trip around the sun.
Seize the Day
Ceres completes one rotation around its axis every 9 hours.
No Longer an Asteroid
Ceres is so much bigger and so different from its neighbors that scientists classified it as a dwarf planet in 2006.
There’s no evidence of an atmosphere on Ceres, only sporadic water vapor—possibly from ice ejected by small impacts.
Ceres does not have any moons.
Ceres does not have any rings.
First Dwarf Planet Visited by Spacecraft
Dawn reached it in 2015 to study its surface, composition and history.
Potential For Life?
Scientists would like to search for possible signs of life on Ceres. It has something many other planets don't: water.
Food For Thought
Ceres is named for the Roman goddess of grain crops and harvests. The word cereal comes from the same name.
Occator and Ahuna
Did You Know?
Ceres was found by an astronomer searching for a star. He thought he found a comet, but with the help of other astronomers decided it was a planet. As more objects were found between Mars and Jupiter, scientists decided Ceres should be called an asteroid—the largest in the region we now call the main asteroid belt. Then, in 2006, Ceres was reclassified as a dwarf planet—the closest one to Earth.Pop Culture
The largest body in the asteroid belt, Ceres has amassed a number of references in science fiction stories of the 20th and 21st centuries. In the TV series The Expanse, Ceres is inhabited by humans, and in the PC Game Descent, one of the secret levels takes place on Ceres.
In the video game Destiny, Ceres was colonized by an alien race called the Fallen at the end of humanity's Golden Age. Ceres was later destroyed by a civilization of post-humans who inhabit the Asteroid Belt.Resources