space exploration

Scientists say dwarf planet Ceres has organic compounds, may be able to host life

The lead scientist for NASA's Dawn probe said the discovery indicated that the solar system has always contained 'the building blocks of life'.

Scientists studying the dwarf planet Ceres on Thursday announced that they had discovered carbon-based organic compounds, raising hope that it might be able to host life. In an article published in Science, the researchers said the discovery was made through a study of Ceres – located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Dawn spacecraft, Reuters reported.

Dawn lead scientist Christopher Russell said that while the compounds “are a long way from microbial life”, the discovery of the material indicated that the solar system has always contained “the building blocks of life”. The material was found near a nearly 50-km-wide crater in the planet’s northern hemisphere. The scientists said that the compounds matched minerals such as kerite or asphaltite.

European Space Astronomy Center planetary scientist Michael Kuppers said that “primitive life” may have developed on the planet. “Ceres is a dwarf planet that may still preserve internal heat from its formation period and may even contain a subsurface ocean,” Kuppers said. “Ceres may have been able to take this process only so far,” Russell said. “However, this discovery tells us that we need to explore Ceres further.” The dwarf planet, the largest object in the asteroid belt, was discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi in January 1801. The planet is composed primarily of rock and ice, and is about 950 km in diameter.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.

Play

It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.