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NASA: Organic Molecules Discovered on Dwarf Planet Ceres --"The First Clear Detection" (VIDEO)

17 Feb 2017, 15:39 UTC
NASA: Organic Molecules Discovered on Dwarf Planet Ceres --"The First Clear Detection" (VIDEO)
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

"This is the first clear detection of organic molecules from orbit on a main belt body," said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead author of the NASA study, based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome. "This discovery adds to our understanding of the possible origins of water and organics on Earth," added Julie Castillo-Rogez, Dawn project scientist based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Data presented in the Science paper support the idea that the organic materials are native to Ceres. The carbonates and clays previously identified on Ceres provide evidence for chemical activity in the presence of water and heat. This raises the possibility that the organics were similarly processed in a warm water-rich environment.

The organic materials on Ceres are mainly located in an area covering approximately 400 square miles (about 1,000 square kilometers). The signature of organics is very clear on the floor of Ernutet Crater, on its southern rim and in an area just outside the crater to the southwest. Another large area with well-defined signatures is found across the northwest part of the crater rim and ejecta. There are other smaller organic-rich areas several miles (kilometers) west and east of the crater. Organics also ...

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