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NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Finds Key Ingredients For Life On Ceres

Ceres orbits between Mars and Jupiter.

17/02/2017 13:30 GMT | Updated 17/02/2017 13:30 GMT

Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, boasts the key ingredients for life, a new study has found.

It reveals that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft recently detected organic compounds, the building blocks for life on Earth, on the distant world.

“With this new finding Dawn has shown that Ceres contains key ingredients for life,” said Dr. Simone March an author of the study based at SwRI.

Evidence of several other vital substances, including water, ice, salt and carbonates, had already been found.

Scientists think Ceres, which formed 4.5 billion years ago at the dawn of our solar system, could hold clues to the evolution of organic species.

Walter Myers/Stocktrek Images via Getty Images

It’s suspected that the organic-rich areas on Ceres are native, originating from the dwarf planet’s interior rather than an asteroid or comet.

Employing Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, scientists found an unusually high concentration of organic matter near the Ernutet crater.

“The overall region is heavily cratered and appears to be ancient; however, the rims of Ernutet crater appear to be relatively fresh,” Marchi said. “The organic-rich areas include carbonate and ammoniated species, which are clearly Ceres’ endogenous material, making it unlikely that the organics arrived via an external impactor.”

Scientists are now set to study how materials from the planet’s interior ended up at its surface.

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