The excellent New Scientist Magazine reports that organic chemistry takes places on asteroids that are flying around in space.
From New Scientist—
“For the first time, rocks from an asteroid have been shown to power the synthesis of life’s essential chemicals. The asteroid in question fell to Earth on 28 September 1969, landing on the outskirts of the village of Murchison in Victoria, Australia. Tests showed it was laced with amino acids and some of the chemicals found in our genetic material. The discovery suggested that space was not the chemically sterile place it was once thought to be, and that organic chemistry was widespread. It hinted that the molecules life needed to get started could have been produced in space, before dropping to Earth.”
I find this discovery encouraging. Positive–even “creative”— things can happen in an environment as hostile as outer space.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel I must be on the moon or in another galaxy because surely the dumb-assed and mean-spirited behavior I witness and read about each day cannot be of this Earth.
I’m glad that even in what might seem to be a void, hopeful things can happen.
So when you feel you are in a void of decency because of some barbaric public policy idea, or in an intellectual void because everything you are hearing makes so little sense, just think of all those asteroids flying around brewing up various chemicals and amino acids.
It is almost always possible to make some kind of progress.
The name of the probe is Messenger. Messenger is sending data and pictures back to Earth about conditions on Mercury.
If Messenger is sending messages to beings on Mercury, I’m sorry to the great degree that this blog post is missing the real story.
(Above—Messenger orbiting Mercury as seen by an artist.)
I’m glad I live in a time where we’ve been able to learn about the planets in our solar system.
Even more amazing, we’ve been learning about planets outside our solar system. I never thought that would be possible in my lifetime.
If intelligent aliens exist on these distant planets, I implore them to stay away.
They will bring terrible diseases. They will enslave us. They will steal our oceans.
What is it like on Mercury?
Mercury is a terrible place.
At least it is in the context of human existence.
I imagine that in the full scheme of existence, Mercury is just like it needs to be.
“Temperatures on Mercury’s surface can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius). Because the planet has no atmosphere to retain that heat, nighttime temperatures on the surface can drop to -280 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius).”
Below is a picture of Mercury sent from Messenger.
A book about the solar system I enjoy is called The Grand Tour–A Traveler’s Guide To The Solar System by Ron Miller and William Hartmann.
Grand Tour has many pictures, drawings and facts about all aspects of our solar system. The book is currently in a third edition.
Some people say government should only pertain to the most minimal functions.
Yet it is only government that could fund missions to understand distant space.
There are no minerals on Mercury that we will be mining from private profit. There are no advertising jingles that Messenger will be sending from Mercury.
There is so much to learn about existence. There is so much context to understand as we consider our views about the world.
Every person has the ability to learn about any subject.
Take the time it requires to learn about our world.
The more we learn, the better we will understand all that is taking place.
Above you see the front page of the Houston Chronicle from July 25, 1969.
The Apollo 11 astronauts had returned from the moon and had been found to have no “moon germs.”
That must have come as very good news.
This story says that salmonella germs launched into space came back more potent.
This article suggest that sunspots may cause flu germs from the stratosphere to infect people on the surface of the Earth.
Here is an article about the possibility that a meteor brought a rain filled with space germs to India.
This story expresses that we are sending Earth germs to Mars.
Above is a picture of Phobos.
While Phobos looks like a rock, it is in fact a moon of Mars.
The above graphic shows the orbit around Mars of the two Martian moons.
They spin around and around to no apparent end.
Phobos, the largest Martian, gouged and nearly shattered by a giant impact crater and beaten by thousands of meteorite impacts, is on a collision course with Mars
Phobos, named after a messenger of the Roman god of war, is the larger of Mars’ two moons and 27 by 22 by 18 km in diameter. It orbits Mars three times a day, and is so close to the planet’s surface that in some locations on Mars it cannot always be seen.
Measurements of the day and night sides of Phobos show such extreme temperature variations that the sunlit side of the moon rivals a pleasant winter day in Chicago, while only a few kilometers away, on the dark side of the moon, the climate is more harsh than a night in Antarctica. High temperatures for Phobos were measured at -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) and lows at -112 Celsius (-170 degrees Fahrenheit). This intense heat loss is likely a result of the fine dust on Phobos’ surface, unable to retain heat.
Phobos has no atmosphere. It may be a captured asteroid, but some scientists show evidence that contradicts this theory.
Moral of the story—Though it may look like a rock, it may in fact be a moon.