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Revelation of building blocks of life on dwarf planet Ceres raises hope for finding life in solar system, media release said.
Scientists said earlier this month that detection of carbon-based materials, by A NASA spacecraft on the Texas-sized dwarf planet Ceres about 950 kilometres in diameter, resembling the building blocks for life on Earth, puts Ceres on a growing list of places in the solar system was of interest to scientists for further research for life beyond Earth.
Included in the list were Mars and several ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
The discovery made by a team of researchers using NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres for nearly two years was published in the journal Science.
"I think these organic molecules are a long way from microbial life. However, this discovery tells us that we need to explore Ceres further," Dawn lead scientist Christopher Russell of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) wrote in an email to Reuters, CBCNews reports said.
Ceres is located about three times farther from the sun than Earth.
"The discovery indicates that the starting material in the solar system contained the essential elements, or the building blocks, for life," Russell said.
"Ceres may have been able to take this process only so far. Perhaps to move further along the path took a larger body with more complex structure and dynamics," like Earth, Russell added.
Although the exact molecular compounds in the organic material found in Ceres' northern hemisphere could not be identified, but these still matched tar-like minerals, such as kerite or asphaltite, the scientists wrote.
"Because Ceres is a dwarf planet that may still preserve internal heat from its formation period and may even contain a subsurface ocean, this opens the possibility that primitive life could have developed on Ceres itself," planetary scientist Michael Kuppers of the European Space Astronomy Centre in Madrid wrote in the journal Science.
Lead researcher Maria Cristina De Sanctis of Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics and colleagues suspected the material was formed inside Ceres through hydrothermal activity, though how the organics reached the surface could not be resolved.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
(Image of planet Ceres: Wikipedia)