Researchers: dwarf planet Ceres has 'key ingredients for life'

Dwarf planet Ceres, the source of things like shiny bright spots and a big ice volcano, has the 'key ingredients for life,' something discovered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The conclusion is based on organic-rich areas detected on the dwarf planet, which researchers believe are native to the planet. These organic materials join evidence of salts, water ice, hydrated minerals, and more also existing on the planet.

The announcement was made by the Southwest Research Institute, where scientists are studying the parts of Ceres found to be rich with organic materials. Organic concentrations have been detected around the planet's Ernutet crater in particular, and may help researchers learn more about the distribution of such organic material around the solar system, as well as their origin and evolution.

The Institute says the organic matter doesn't appears to come from any specific crater on the planet, though it has been found in high concentrations in certain places. One area of concentration is said to be a 'highly degraded' crater that is likely ancient. Both ammoniated and carbonate organic materials are said to have been found.

Speaking about this, senior research scientist Dr. Simone Marchi said, "The organic-rich areas include carbonate and ammoniated species, which are clearly Ceres' endogenous material, making it unlikely that the organics arrived via an external impactor." Those external impactors would have been things like asteroids.

SOURCE: Southwest Research Institute