Ceres Harbors Building Blocks of Life

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Ceres, the largest asteroid in the Solar System, and now considered a dwarf planet, may have once been habitable. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft collected samples from the surface and were found to contain organic compounds and amino acids, which are often referred to as the building blocks of life. Dawn has also discovered evidence of a subsurface ocean and cryovolcanoes. Cryovolcanoes spew out water, ice, and methane gas instead of the molten rock our volcanoes spit out.

This is a big deal for astrobiology because it further explores the possibility that the seeds of life exist throughout the Solar System and in the asteroid belt, specifically. There are theories that an asteroid crashing into Earth brought organic materials that would later form life.

Earlier this year, NASA approved two asteroid missions; one will be visiting Jupiter’s trojan asteroids and the other will be visiting a completely metal asteroid. It is thought that the metal asteroid is actually the core of a planet that had its outer layers destroyed by collisions. These missions will look for evidence of organic materials and amino acids, as well.

NASA Astrobiology: Ceres

 

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2 thoughts on “Ceres Harbors Building Blocks of Life

  1. Wow. These building blocks of life are pretty rare, so if they’re found, it’s big news. This is like when I was 8, I was at a friends house, and we found a Lego set that he had gotten for Christmas underneath his bed. It was one of the Star Wars ones, so it was pretty cool. Anyways, if Ceres has these amino acids on them, then it could mean that life in the universe is not as rare as we once thought.

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  2. This is pretty cool. If we can further explore the possibility of colonizing asteroids and other smaller objects in our solar system, that would be huge for the future of space exploration. It seems to me that smaller objects such as asteroids would be much easier to terraform. Since there are so many more of them than planets there could be a real future in this area, depending on what these new missions to Ceres discover.

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