Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Michael J. Gaffey

Second Advisor

Gabriele Arnold


Ceres has been heavily investigated during the last years prior to the DAWN mission. Although it is the largest object in the Main Asteroid Belt, its properties, especially the surface composition, are not well understood. Studies of Ceres surface composition and texture are of particular importance to generally analyze the interior and evolution of Solar System objects as well as the surface processes that are/were active on those bodies. VIS-IR spectroscopy is an effective method to detect characteristic absorption bands in the spectra of surface materials which can be related to the surface composition of planets and asteroids.

The primary aim of this work is to review the previous visible and infrared earth-based observations and the supporting laboratory work that have been done so far to get an overview on the possible surface composition of Ceres prior to DAWN’s arrival. These data will be compared with complementary spectral measurements in the wavelength range of the VIR instrument onboard the DAWN spacecraft between 0.5 to 5 µm. Measured analogue materials include meteorites (CM, CO, and CV chondrites) and minerals (brucite, cronstedtite, tochilinite, buddingtonite). Additional spectra were collected from databases like Relab to increase the range of data. These data include spectra of meteorites, especially CM, CO, CV and CI chondrites, and of terrestrial analogue materials, e.g. montmorillonite, carbonates, water ice and frost, pyrite, magnesite. Diagnostic spectral characteristics, like the wavelength of slope change, the spectral slopes in the VIS and NIR, and absorption bands, have been defined and analyzed in the available spectra. They are a useful tool to identify Ceres’ surface materials and to draw implications for the DAWN composition analysis.