Ceres Contains “Key Ingredients For Life,” New Study Confirms
A recent commentary piece published in Science has broken the news that organic compounds on the dwarf planet of Ceres have been detected. This means that, according to author Michael Küppers “primitive life could have developed on Ceres”.
The organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life, were detected by the Visible and InfraRed Mapping Spectrometer on the Dawn spacecraft. It was launched in 2007 by NASA and in 2015 locked in orbit around the dwarf planet. Previously it was discovered that Ceres has salt and ammonia present. Dawn and other telescopes had also detected water ice and carbonates.
Another author and senior research scientist at Southwest Research Institute, Simone Marchi, said in another paper that “Ceres has evidence of ammonia-bearing hydrated minerals, water ice, carbonates, salts, and now organic materials.”
“With this new finding Dawn has shown that Ceres contains key ingredients for life.”
Scientists do not yet know the exact molecular compounds that were detected, but at a glance they look to be similar to those that make up tar-like minerals on Earth. They were found in high concentration near the 51-kilometer-wide crater Ernutet, in the northern hemisphere.
Further supporting the idea of primitive life on the dwarf planet is that the researchers think the compounds were generated on the planet, rather than brought in by an asteroid or comet. The study says the compounds would not have survived the impact, but it is still unclear how they moved from inside the planet to the surface.
With this new finding Dawn has shown that Ceres contains key ingredients for life.
Ceres itself formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago, and understanding its mineral composition and its capacity for life will help scientists better understand our own planets history. Aside from Mars, now it looks like Ceres and Europa are the top contenders for alien life within our Solar System.