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#1 Crisp

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 00:46

Dwarf Planet Ceres May Harbor Life; NASA Spacecraft En Route

 

ceres.jpg

NASA Hubble Space Telescope color image of Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. Credit: NASA/ESA/J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park), and M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

 

In the frenzy to find life elsewhere in the solar system, Mars or the outer gas giant planets’ active moons are usually the odds-on favorites.

But the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest and most massive body in the Main Asteroid Belt, may have evolved some form of thermophilic subsurface bacteria, researchers now say.

At almost 1000 kms in diameter, icy Ceres is thought to be still warm enough inside to provide clement conditions for at least some sort of bacterial life.

Models suggest that the dwarf planet coalesced within 5 million years of our solar system’s first formative salvos. And the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has determined that Ceres is likely to be differentiated. That is, with the help of radioactive nuclides, water ice melted into an icy mantle while rocky silicates sank to form its putative inner core.

 

But from a geophysical point of view, researchers stress that Ceres is not an asteroid but, in fact, an intact, small terrestrial-like icy planet. However, like so many objects in the Main Asteroid Belt, Jupiter’s gravity put a squelch on Ceres’ ability to form a full-sized terrestrial planet.

 

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#2 DocM

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 02:40

Wouldn't surprise me one bit. Next to the Jovian icy moons Ceres should be a major sample & submersible rover target.

#3 Growled

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 01:17

It does sort of surprise me. I've never considered life being on Ceres.



#4 DocM

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:31

It's a minor planet that's estimated to have more total water than Earth has fresh water, about 200 million cu/km.

If its core is heated by radioactive decay a habitat could be under the surface ice. Add hydrothermal vents and chemosymthesis and you have an environment much like the vents under Earth's oceans, and they're loaded with critters.

Ceres has also been suggested as a refueling depot for a deep space infrastructure. Use solar or nuclear heat sources to break water down into hydrogen & oxygen and you can gas up.

#5 Dot Matrix

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:34

It's rounded by its gravity... It's a planet.



#6 DocM

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:37

I would classify it as such, but the same IAU pinheads that took away Pluto's planet status kept Ceres out too.

#7 Enron

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:40

It does sort of surprise me. I've never considered life being on Ceres.

 

The last Metroid is in captivity at Ceres station.



#8 Dot Matrix

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:40

I'm confused as to why Dwarf Planets are somehow immune from being counted alongside their larger brothers. There's a pretty clear natural definition between a planet that's round, and an asteroid that's odd shaped.



#9 DocM

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 02:51

The International Astronomical Union (http://www.iau.org) makes those decisions, and a lot of people disagree with excluding the self-rounded "minor planets." One of the prime movers in getting them excluded was Neil deGrasse Tyson.

#10 CroSonts

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 06:51

I'm confused as to why Dwarf Planets are somehow immune from being counted alongside their larger brothers. There's a pretty clear natural definition between a planet that's round, and an asteroid that's odd shaped.

Roundness isn't the only thing though, otherwise all the moons would be considered planets.



#11 Dot Matrix

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 13:58

Roundness isn't the only thing though, otherwise all the moons would be considered planets.


Right, but there's a pretty clear difference between a planet that orbits the sun directly, and a moon, which orbits a planet.

#12 IsItPluggedIn

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 22:58

Back on topic here.

 

Its good to know that life exists on other planets, but why do we care about it, if its just bacteria or micro organisms?

 

We get to say there is life outside our planet but that is all it really achieves.

 

Do we really think that finding bacteria on Ceres will help anything? 

Increase funding to find life - unlikely

Stop religions- unlikely

 

It seems like it is only for bragging rights for the country that does it first.



#13 Hum

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 23:06

Abductee, Barney Hill, made a claim that there may be an alien base on Ceres.



#14 Slugsie

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 23:17

Its good to know that life exists on other planets, but why do we care about it, if its just bacteria or micro organisms?

 

We get to say there is life outside our planet but that is all it really achieves.

 

 

If we find that life - of any form - exists on more than one body within our Solar System then it greatly increases the chances that life is common throughout the Universe, rather than life on this planet being an oddity and rare. The more common life is, the greater chance there is other intelligent life.



#15 Growled

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 00:17

The International Astronomical Union (http://www.iau.org) makes those decisions, and a lot of people disagree with excluding the self-rounded "minor planets." One of the prime movers in getting them excluded was Neil deGrasse Tyson.

 

Count me as one that strongly disagrees with them.