Organic Material Found on Asteroid Ceres

This is fascinating, as Star Trek’s Mr Spock would put it. Scientists at NASA have found organic molecules on the surface of the asteroid, Ceres. They can’t tell at the moment what these molecules are, but they believe they’re similar to Kerisite, and came from within the planetoid, rather than being carried to it by a comet striking its surface.

This short video from D News discusses the recent finding, pointing out that this provides further evidence to support the possibility that life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Ceres is the largest of the asteroids, or minor planets, orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Most of them are quite small, and have been rightly dubbed ‘flying mountains’. Ceres, however is about 500 miles in diameter.

There has been evidence before that the organic molecules forming the building blocks of life exist in the asteroid belt. These chemicals have been found in meteorites that have landed on Earth. However, with some of these the evidence has been extremely debatable. One of these meteors came down in Orgueoil in France. However, the organic molecules they found may have had a far more mundane origin, as the person, who’d discovered it had stored it in his fridge. I think it had got covered in butter, amongst other things.

I found another video on this discovery, which suggested that there may also be an internal ocean on Ceres, and that the organic molecules on its surface may indicate that it has life, even of only a very primitive kind, underneath in its oceans. This would be, in the words of Zaphod Beeblebrox, ‘amazingly amazing!’ if true. I suspect there isn’t such an ocean and no life there either, but we won’t know for sure until this is investigated further.

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3 Responses to “Organic Material Found on Asteroid Ceres”

  1. Florence Says:

    Having studied chemistry, biochemistry and extremophile microbes on earth, I have always strongly supported the view that the building blocks of life (as we know it) are abundant in the universe, and life will have evolved many times too. Given the small size of Ceres, and the known dwarfing effect of restricted environments I suspect very very tiny life forms will be found. But they may still be mighty.

    • Beastrabban Says:

      It would be brilliant if they were. I remember the debate surrounding the microfossils that were supposed to have been found in the meteorite from Antarctica. The meteorite itself ultimately came from Mars. Initially the structures in it were considered by many scientists to be too small actually to be microbes. Then someone found microbes of similar size here on Earth. I think the jury’s still out on whether they were genuine fossils, though I’ve seen papers published by the British Interplanetary Society that argue very strongly that they were.

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