As with the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, terraforming Ceres would first require that the surface temperature be raised in order to sublimate its icy outer layer. This could be done by using orbital mirrors to focus sunlight onto the surface, by detonating thermonuclear devices on the surface, or colliding small asteroids harvested from the Main Belt onto the surface.

This would result in Ceres’ crust thawing and turning into a dense, water vapor-rich atmosphere. The orbital mirrors would once again come into play here, where they would be used to trigger photolysis and transform the water vapor into hydrogen and oxygen gas. While the hydrogen gas would be lost to space, the oxygen would remain closer to the surface.

Ammonia could also be harvested locally, since Ceres is believed to have plentiful deposits of ammonia-rich clay soils. With the introduction of specific strains of bacteria into the newly created atmospheres – such as the Nitrosomonas, Pseudomonas and Clostridium species – the sublimated ammonia could be converted into nitrites (NO²-) and then nitrogen gas. The end result would be an ocean world with seas that are 100 km in depth.

Another option would be to employ a process known as “paraterraforming ” – where a world is enclosed (in whole or in part) in an artificial shell in order to transform its environment. In the case of Ceres and other icy moons, this could involve building large “Shell Worlds” to encase them, keeping the newly-created atmospheres inside. Within this shell, Ceres' temperature could be increased, UV lights would convert water vapor to oxygen gas, ammonia could be converted to nitrogen, and other elements could be added as needed.

In the same vein, a dome could be built over one or more of Ceres’ craters – particularly the Occator, Kerwan and Yalode craters – where the surface temperature could slowly be raised, and silicates and organic molecules could be introduced to create a terrestrial-like environment. Using water harvested from the surface, this land could be irrigated, oxygen gas could be processed, and nitrogen could be pumped in to act as a buffer gas.

20151022 ceres rc3 urvara machi f537

The Urvara and Yalode basins on Ceres. NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA / Daniel Macháček

Possible problems and solutions with terraforming Ceres:Edit

  • Due to the dwarf planet's small mass, the gravity is only 3% of Earth's and this would cause the atmosphere to slowly begin to escape into space. It would mean replenishing of its atmosphere every time it begins to thin out, unless the "world house" concept is used.
  • Because Ceres is in the main Asteroid Belt, the danger of a meteorite impact, which would cause massive damage to the biosphere, is high. Orbiting artificial satellites with projectile detectors and weapon systems might be necessary to protect the dwarf planet from harm.
  • Also, as far as we know, there is no known magnetic field on Ceres. This means the "solar wind" could strip away the atmosphere in a very little amount of time. One solution to this is some sort of magnetic field generators.

See also Edit


Dwarf Planets




Ceres Simulation

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.