2017-02-17. Building blocks of life found on dwarf planet Ceres.

posted Feb 19, 2017, 12:26 PM by Alan Gould
By CBC News, Thomson Reuters. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. Excerpt: A NASA spacecraft has detected carbon-based materials, similar to what may have been the building blocks for life on Earth, on the Texas-sized dwarf planet Ceres that orbits between Mars and Jupiter in the main asteroid belt, scientists said on Thursday. The finding puts Ceres, a rock-and-ice world about 950 kilometres in diameter, on a growing list of places in the solar system of interest to scientists looking for life beyond Earth. The list includes Mars and several ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The discovery, published in the journal Science, was made by a team of researchers using NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres for nearly two years. "I think these organic molecules are a long way from microbial life," Dawn lead scientist Christopher Russell of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) wrote in an email to Reuters. "However, this discovery tells us that we need to explore Ceres further. ...The discovery indicates that the starting material in the solar system contained the essential elements, or the building blocks, for life," Russell said.... http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/organic-material-found-chilly-ceres-180962227/