jan 052013
 
Carbon, a Building Block for Organic Molecules, in Vesta's Craters

  Large impacts of asteroids may have transferred carbonaceous material to the protoplanet and inner Solar System   The protoplanet Vesta has been witness to an eventful past: images taken by the framing camera onboard NASA’s space probe Dawn show two enormous craters in the southern hemisphere. The images were obtained during Dawn’s year-long visit [continue reading]

okt 122012
 
The Girl's Best Friend Found: A Big Diamond Planet

  New research led by Yale University scientists suggests that a rocky planet twice Earth’s size orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet. Family portraits of two planetary systems: A simulation of the silhouette of planet 55 Cancri e passing in front of  its parent star, compared to the Earth and Jupiter transiting our [continue reading]

sep 212012
 
Dawn Sees Hydrated Minerals on Asteroid Vesta (with Video)

  Volatiles, or easily evaporated materials, have colored Vesta’s surface in a broad swath around its equator. This has been reported in two new papers based on observations from the low-altitude mapping orbit of the Dawn mission.  Asteroid Vesta. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA Pothole-like features mark some of the asteroid’s surface where the volatiles, likely water, released [continue reading]

sep 192012
 
Organics in Very Cold Regions of the Universe; Are We Alone?

  Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are creating concoctions of organics, or carbon-bearing molecules, on ice in the lab, then zapping them with lasers. Their goal: to better understand how life arose on Earth. An artist’s concept of a  very young solar system, with its swirling planet-forming disk. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle In [continue reading]

mei 312012
 
Methane On Mars Does Not Indicate Life

Intense UV radiation on the red planet releases methane from organic materials which meteorites transport onto its surface. Methane concentration on Mars: The graphics shows the calculated methane concentrations in parts per billion (ppb) on Mars during the summer in the northern hemisphere. Violet and blue indicate small methane, red areas indicate large amounts. Credit: [continue reading]

mei 252012
 
Organic Carbon In Meteorites From Mars Is Not Biological

  Molecules containing large chains of carbon and hydrogen–the building blocks of all life on Earth–have been the targets of missions to Mars from Viking to the present day. While these molecules have previously been found in meteorites from Mars, scientists have disagreed about how this organic carbon was formed and whether or not it [continue reading]