Life’s Building Blocks Found On Dwarf Planet Ceres

Organic molecules — those made primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms — are essential for life as we know it.  Carbon is the coolest, most special atom of all. Not only can it link in multiple ways to other atoms, but it happily links with itself to form incredibly complex molecules, the kind that…
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Asteroid Vesta At Its Best — Here’s How To See It

Lately, I’ve talked about how to find planets, but there are lots of other planet-like bodies in the night sky — the asteroids. As of March 2016, we know of 1.3 million of them, 750,000 of which have calculated orbits. The name asteroid comes from “aster,” Latin for star, and it perfectly describes their star-like…
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Ahuna Mons, An Alien Volcano With Briny Mud For Magma

This simulated view of Ahuna Mons (Mt. Ahuna) was made using stereo photos NASA’s Dawn spacecraft acquired from its low mapping orbit in August shows one of the asteroid Ceres most remarkable features. Ahuna Mons is likely a cryovolcano or “cold volcano”, formed when salty mud rose up from underground in a growing, dome-like features similar…
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Ice Goes Into Hiding On Ceres / Dawn, Pluto Probe Update

We know there’s ice inside Ceres, but it may be chillin’ on the surface, too. Scientists with NASA’s Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed craters on the dwarf planet that have likely been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years. “The conditions on Ceres are right for accumulating deposits of water ice,” said…
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Verdict In On Ceres Bright Spot — It’s Salt

Salt and butter. Ingredients essential to a happy life. At least one of those you’ll find on Ceres, and it ain’t butter. According to a new study from scientists on NASA’s Dawn mission published June 29 in the journal Nature, the dominant mineral of the mysterious “bright spot” in Ceres’ Occator Crater is sodium carbonate, a…
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