As far as we know, life needs water to survive — and lots of it to thrive. Ceres is the closest large celestial body to Earth which is thought to have an abundance of fresh water. It is also closest to the sun of any large icy body, which along with possible interior heat might warm it enough for subsurface liquid water to exist.
Important criteria for a human outpost in space are available resources. Dozens of probes have been tasked with finding water deposits on the Moon and Mars. Ceres may in fact have more water than we would ever need.
Thus, Ceres would not only be a great place to search for life, but a possible future destination for manned missions and outposts as well.
Ceres is also interesting historically. First it was a Planet, then it was an Asteroid, and now it is a Dwarf Planet. The one mission to Ceres, NASA’s Dawn Mission, was cancelled, reinstated, told to “Stand Down”, “Indefinitely Postponed”, publicly cancelled, placed under review, and finally reinstated and given a go for launch in June 2007. While Ceres may be one of the gems of our solar system, its nomenclature and single planned mission have had a turbulent past.
Ceres: The Dwarf Planet