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Dawn Spacecraft Close To Finding Life In Space? Ceres Potentially Habitable Planet Full Of Water…


Ceres-Artist-Rendering-665x385

The Dawn Spacecraft is about to get a close-up view of a potentially habitable planet. The space probe will orbit the dwarf planet Ceres sometime around March 2015. Ceres is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter which some scientists feel has the capability of supporting life as we know it.

According to Discovery News, Ceres is of great interest to astronomers and scientists. Not only may it be able to support life as we know it — potentially harboring life in space already — the small dwarf planet may also be the “largest water reservoir in the inner solar system aside from Earth.” Scientists believe that Ceres may be comprised of 40 percent water by volume. However, scientists are unsure how much of that water is actually liquid.

“Ceres is actually the largest water reservoir in the inner solar system other than the Earth. However, it’s unclear at the moment how much, if any, of this water is liquid.”

The potential for liquid water is promising, considering that Ceres has a relatively decent amount of solar heating. Ceres may also have the capability to generate its own internal heat like Jovian moon Europa and the Saturn satellite Enceladus. The internal heating theory, which suggests Ceres is capable of producing its own internal heating through tidal forces, stems from the fact that scientists discovered water vapor emissions coming from Ceres earlier this year. These vapor plumes could be a sign of internal heating and a potential subsurface body of water. However, it could also just be ice water near Ceres surface that is being heated by the sun and evaporating.

However, the Dawn Spacecraft will be able to answer these questions more definitively, once it makes its way into Ceres orbit. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the detailed images that Dawn will be able to capture once in orbit will be significant.

“At that point, Dawn will be able to capture detailed images of the tiny planet, possibly including ice caps, clouds, and ice volcanoes. Astronomers would not be surprised by any of these findings, as they have discovered direct evidence of water on the dwarf planet Ceres in the form of vapor plumes erupting into space, possibly from volcano-like ice geysers on its surface.”

What exactly will the Dawn Spacecraft be looking for in regards to the potential for harboring life on Ceres, aside from a warm alien welcome? Jian-Yang Li, of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, says that life as we know it requires three main ingredients.

“Liquid water, an energy source and certain chemical building blocks (namely, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogren, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur).”

If the Dawn is able to find these three key components, Ceres could very well prove to be home to at least some life in space.

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Researchers: We may have found a fabled sunstone..Used by the Vikings?


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A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.
In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal — a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel — worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.
That’s because of a property known as birefringence, which splits light beams in a way that can reveal the direction of their source with a high degree of accuracy. Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn’t present a problem.
“You don’t have to understand how it works,” said Albert Le Floch, of the University in Rennes in western France. “Using it is basically easy.”
Vikings were expert navigators — using the sun, stars, mountains and even migratory whales to help guide them across the sea — but some have wondered at their ability to travel the long stretches of open water between Greenland, Iceland, and Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.
Le Floch is one of several who’ve suggested that calcite crystals were used as navigational aids for long summer days in which the sun might be hidden behind the clouds. He said the use of such crystals may have persisted into the 16th century, by which time magnetic compasses were widely used but often malfunctioned.
Le Floch noted that one Icelandic legend — the Saga of St. Olaf — appears to refer to such a crystal when it says that Olaf used a “sunstone” to verify the position of the sun on a snowy day.
But that’s it. Few other medieval references to sunstones have been found, and no such crystals have ever been recovered from Viking tombs or ships. Until the Alderney Crystal was recovered in 2002, there had been little if any hard evidence to back the theory.
Many specialists are still skeptical. Donna Heddle, the director of the Center for Nordic Studies at Scotland’s University of the Highlands and Islands, described the solar compass hypothesis as speculative.
“There’s no solid evidence that that device was used by Norse navigators,” she said Friday. “There’s never been one found in a Viking boat. One cannot help but feel that if there were such things they would be found in graves.”
She acknowledged that the crystal came from Iceland and was found near a navigation tool, but said it might just as easily have been used as a magnifying device as a solar compass.
Le Floch argued that one of the reasons why no stones have been found before is that calcite degrades quickly — it’s vulnerable to acid, sea salts, and to heat. The Alderney Crystal was originally transparent, but the sea water had turned it a milky white.
Le Floch’s paper — written with Guy Ropars, Jacques Lucas, and a group of Britons from the Alderney Maritime Trust — appeared Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

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By Jakeof — Friday September 28, 2012 — Bosham Hoe, West Sussex, United Kingdom


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Take A Walk To The “Edge of the World”


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