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Surface of Pluto May Contain Organic Molecules (news)

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posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 08:15 AM
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The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted new evidence of complex organic molecules — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it — on the frigid surface of Pluto, a new study finds.




Hubble observations revealed that some substances on Pluto's surface are absorbing more ultraviolet light than expected. The compounds in question may well be organics, possibly complex hydrocarbons or nitrogen-containing molecules, researchers said. The dwarf planet Pluto is known to harbor ices of methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen on its surface. The ultraviolet-absorbing chemical species may have been produced when sunlight or super-speedy subatomic particles known as cosmic rays interacted with these ices, researchers said.





"This is an exciting finding because complex Plutonian hydrocarbons and other molecules that could be responsible for the ultraviolet spectral features we found with Hubble may, among other things, be responsible for giving Pluto its ruddy color," study leader Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., said in a statement.





Pluto circles the sun in a distant ring of icy bodies known as the Kuiper Belt. Many other Kuiper Belt objects are also quite red, and researchers have previously speculated that organics are responsible for their ruddiness as well. Stern and his colleagues also found that Pluto's ultraviolet spectrum has changed compared to Hubble measurements taken during the 1990s. They used Hubble's powerful Cosmic Origins Spectrograph instrument to make the find. These differences may be related to changes in the dwarf planet's terrain since then, researchers said. It's possible that a steep increase in Pluto's atmospheric pressure has caused changes in Pluto's surface, they added. Overall, the new Hubble observations shed further light on Pluto a few years ahead of the first-ever spacecraft visit to the cold, distant world. "The discovery we made with Hubble reminds us that even more exciting discoveries about Pluto's composition and surface evolution are likely to be in store when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft arrives at Pluto in 2015," Stern said. New Horizons launched in January 2006 on a 4-billion-mile (6.4-billion-kilometer) journey to Pluto. The probe is due to make its closest approach to the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015. On that date, New Horizons will be just 7,767 miles (12,500 km) away from the frigid world.


space.com

I guess we will have to wait until New Horizons gets closer, to find out anything worthy. July 14, 2015.

Interesting news nonetheless. Thoughts? I'm getting more and more excited by our Solar System each day



edit on 21-12-2011 by Violence because: (no reason given)

edit on 21-12-2011 by Violence because: (no reason given)

 
Quoting External Sources - Please Review This Link
Starting a New Thread ?... Look Here First.
edit on Wed Dec 21 2011 by Jbird because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 08:35 AM
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reply to post by Violence
 





Interesting news nonetheless. Thoughts?


my first thought is that all life on earth could come from the surface of pluto
the seed of life kicked up towards earth by a meteor..

We could all be plutonians



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 08:48 AM
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Great topic. I would like to share some information I just discovered on wiki which I had not known about until today while looking through the data available and doing some basic research.

First of all, I didn't know that Pluto :


Like Uranus, Pluto rotates on its "side" on its orbital plane, with an axial tilt of 120°, and so its seasonal variation is extreme; at its solstices, one-fourth of its surface is in permanent daylight, while another fourth is in permanent darkness.


I found this very interesting.

Also, there is several known satellites, not just one as I had been taught in school. It's fascinating how much we are learning about our own solar system still, and it shows me that we have a lot more to learn in the coming years!


Pluto has four known natural satellites: Charon, first identified in 1978 by astronomer James Christy; Nix and Hydra, both discovered in 2005,[97] and S/2011 P 1 (provisional name, also known as P4), identified by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011.


Who knew that Pluto had 4 known satellites? I didn't! Simply amazing.
I cannot imagine what discoveries are right around the corner.



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:00 AM
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reply to post by muzzleflash
 


Thanks for posting this, I never knew that information either!

You learn something new every day



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:10 AM
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This is amazing, but I wander how they can find complex organic molecule of life on a so distant planet and no on Mars?

S&F


edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:10 AM
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so more and more info is released about our solar system that contradicts everything we knew about it... interesting



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:12 AM
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reply to post by Arken
 


good question
even tho they actually said there is liquid water on mars even now



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:17 AM
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Originally posted by kobewan69
reply to post by Arken
 


good question
even tho they actually said there is liquid water on mars even now


Seems that they hide something.....



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:18 AM
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Originally posted by Arken
This is amazing, but I wander how they can find complex organic molecule of life on a so distant planet and no on Mars?

S&F


edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)


Perhaps a planetoid (pluto?) collided with the Earth billions of years ago, blasting out a cloud of debris that collected into the Moon and seeding earth with life
edit on 21-12-2011 by Vandalour because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 10:01 AM
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reply to post by Vandalour
 


My point is: how is possible that Hubble Telescope can find organic molecules on Pluto meanwhile and from decades we sent dozens of Probes and Rovers on Mars and found....absolutely nothing?

edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 10:10 AM
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The operative word is 'MAY'.

Very first line of text.



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 10:45 AM
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Originally posted by Arken
This is amazing, but I wander how they can find complex organic molecule of life on a so distant planet and no on Mars?

S&F


edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)

The compounds they are talking about have nothing to do with life.
They probably cannot be detected on Mars because they don't exist on Mars.

edit on 12/21/2011 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 11:12 AM
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Originally posted by Arken
This is amazing, but I wander how they can find complex organic molecule of life on a so distant planet and no on Mars?

S&F


edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)


They think there may be a possibility that Mars may have some organics, although they have not been detected:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

Plus, they have confirmed the presence of methane on Mars -- albeit methane is a simple organic.


It could be that complex organics are less likely to break down and be more well-preserved in the the outer solar system. Complex organics have been possibly detected in comets from the outer solar systems and in nebulae and gas clouds in the depths of space, away from harsh solar radiation.

Here is a description NASA-funded project in which the experimenter is hoping to show the survivability of organic compounds that may have existed on an early (wetter) Mars -- surviving today inside rocks and minerals.

Survivability of Organic Molecules in Mars Minerals Under Ionizing Radiation


The NASA Astrobiology website (from which I got the above link) is a great resource for seeing all of the work NASA is either funding for others or doing on their own in research on the possibilities of life elsewhere. It's extremely interesting to see the "Life in the Universe" studies NASA is doing/funding right now, and what kind of future things they are considering. I was reading a story about early studies they are doing that may lead to a possible future mission to put a submersible probe in one of the methane lakes on Titan.

Cool stuff. There is a lot of interesting research into alien life going on today.
Here's a link to that website:

NASA Astrobiology: Life in the Universe

NOTE:
That website is very slow (at least for me), so you may need to be patient after each click. However, it is worth the patience.


Be sure to explore the whole site. There are links across the top to the following sub-pages:

NAI - NASA Astrobiology Institue
ASTEP - NASA’s Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets Program
ASTID - NASA Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development Program
EXO - NASA’s Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program



edit on 12/21/2011 by Soylent Green Is People because: speeelling

edit on 12/21/2011 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 10:45 PM
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reply to post by Soylent Green Is People
 

Great post, Soylent Green Is People. A star for your erudition – and your courteous patience. You are an example to the rest of us.

My personal feeling is that life is pretty widespread throughout the universe and in our own solar system too, although it may not always be easily recognizable as such.



posted on Dec, 22 2011 @ 03:33 AM
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Originally posted by Phage

Originally posted by Arken
This is amazing, but I wander how they can find complex organic molecule of life on a so distant planet and no on Mars?

S&F


edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)

The compounds they are talking about have nothing to do with life.
They probably cannot be detected on Mars because they don't exist on Mars.

edit on 12/21/2011 by Phage because: (no reason given)


You are joking, right Phage?

I appreciate your hidden irony.

edit on 22-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 23 2011 @ 09:46 PM
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Originally posted by Arken
This is amazing, but I wander how they can find complex organic molecule of life on a so distant planet and no on Mars?

S&F


edit on 21-12-2011 by Arken because: (no reason given)


Exactly!

They just don't want to tell us


OP cool thread! I have always liked Pluto and they can take it out as being a planet it all they want it will always be one of my ruling planets with Mars



posted on Dec, 23 2011 @ 09:57 PM
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When they say "organic molecule" they're talking about chemistry so it's not even close to life...like Phage said.


Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation (by synthesis or by other means) of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives. These compounds may contain any number of other elements, including hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, the halogens as well as phosphorus, silicon, and sulfur.

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Dec, 23 2011 @ 10:53 PM
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It's not an organic molecule OF life, it happens to be an organic molecule IN life. One has to understand the difference, and the difference in remote sensing and in analysis, in vitro analysis, and in vivo analysis, we have no samples from Pluto to analyze even ex vivo, which doesn't even apply because they are just chemical compounds, and not LIFE. We do have samples from Comet Wild-2 returned to earth from the NASA spasecraft Stardust, and 'the' complex building block of RNA in DNA detected is simple glycine.

Glycine

No more important in DNA structure than sugar. My sugar in the cabinet isn't intelligent life, as I know it, but it is sweet, so I give it that.

Glycine is the smallest of the 20 amino acids commonly found in proteins, doesn't mean it's a protein either. It's a brick in the wall, not the guy that built the wall. I also have water in my kitchen, doesn't mean the water is alive either.



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