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Business News/ Science / News/  Dwarf planet Ceres may have alien life; researchers hopeful to find organic molecules
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Dwarf planet Ceres may have alien life; researchers hopeful to find organic molecules

Asteroids colliding with Ceres influence organic molecules, increasing its astrobiological potential.

Dwarf planet Ceres (Wikimedia Commons/NASA)Premium
Dwarf planet Ceres (Wikimedia Commons/NASA)

Asteroids colliding with dwarf planet Ceres have played a critical influence in the occurrence of organic molecules there, as per researchers. According to astrophysicist Juan Rizos, these organic compounds may be more plentiful and robust than previously thought, increasing Ceres' astrobiological potential, Space.com reported. This research was presented on October 17 at the Geological Society of America's GSA Connects 2023 meeting.

Ceres has been spotlighted as a high-priority target for a future sample return mission, as outlined in the 2023-2032 decadal survey for planetary science and astrobiology, Space.com added. Such a mission could offer unparalleled insights into these intriguing organics, though it remains several decades away.

Also Read: NASA kickstarts Heliophysics Big year to explore the Sun's influence. Here's all you need to know

The research team, based at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia in Spain, conducted extensive tests to simulate Ceres-like impact conditions. These experiments took place at NASA's Ames Vertical Gun Range in California, a facility specifically designed for analysing the mechanics of asteroid strikes and impact cratering, the publication added.

The study utilised an amalgamation of data from the camera and imaging spectrometer aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, allowing more detailed mapping of areas on Ceres rich in organic material than ever before.

The study seems to indicate a strong correlation between areas with older impacts and the abundance of organics. This suggests that asteroids have influenced the organic composition of Ceres over billions of years. There's a high likelihood that a large reservoir of these organics exists inside the dwarf planet itself, possibly in the presence of water.

Also Read: NASA experts wanted India to share space technology after seeing Chandrayaan-3 craft development: ISRO chief Somanath

NASA's Lucy mission 

A separate NASA mission named Lucy is set to probe 10 Trojan asteroids, which are believed to contain clues about the origins of our solar system and even Earth. Researchers argue that comparing data from Lucy with that obtained by the Dawn spacecraft will deepen the understanding of how organic molecules are distributed in the outer solar system, as per Space.com.

Read the original report by Space.com HERE.

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Published: 19 Oct 2023, 08:54 AM IST
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