Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Asteroids Are Awesome!

1. There was a very interesting article in the journal Nature that talks about water and organic material being found on a asteroid. A research team at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University found that the asteroid contains water ice and organic materials (in the form of hydrogen-carbon bonds).

This is a fantastic find and will help us better understand how life got its start. It also proves that not all asteroids are dry, rocky pieces from the early solar system. Some of the asteroids out there still contain ice and organic materials. It also blurs the lines between what is a comet and what is an asteroid. I love blurry science!

2. Remember the announcement that life had been found from Mars back in 1996? I remember it and how exciting it was to think that we had proof of life other than on earth. Well, the researchers kept studying the material and are sticking by their original findings all these years later.

The problem that I see with this is that the central problem in 1996 was that the researchers didn't prove that the fossilized bacteria was not a product of contamination from bacteria that was already on earth. The researchers say that they have found other Mars asteroids with the same bacterial fossils on them which supports their case. I think the key word there is “on”, not “in”. Since this was found on igneous rock instead of in sedimentary rock, the evidence would seem to point to a post-collision contamination scenario.

This is a genuine conflict that will be fun to watch over the next few years.

No comments:

Post a Comment