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Space Science

Ancient Comet Fragments Found In Antarctic Snow 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the cool-and-collected dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos Magazine: "Two tiny meteorites recently recovered from Antarctic snow contain material dating back to the birth of our Solar System, and may provide clues about the delivery of organic matter to Earth. Researchers believe that these micrometeorites likely came from the cold, comet-forming outer regions of the gas and dust cloud that comprised the early Solar System, and sample its composition. Discovered in 2006, the particles measure less than 0.25 mm across and survived their journey through Earth's atmosphere relatively unscathed. More importantly, scientists found that they contain unusually high amounts of organic matter."
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Ancient Comet Fragments Found In Antarctic Snow

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  • RUN! (Score:5, Funny)

    by PedoPope (1806810) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:31PM (#32148158)
    re:"More importantly, scientists found that they contain unusually high amounts of organic matter." Just before he choked, fell to the ground, and turned into a multi-tentacled extra terrestrial and savagely attacked the audience.
  • Apparently the big bang has some evidence to back up its sexual connotations. We got blasted with pansperm!
  • this theory again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668)
    There seems to be a disagreement about whether or not organic materials just were here, formed here, or were brought here by an outside source. This article seems to be leaning towards the organic meteor theory but here's a fun question: where did the material on the meteor come from then? The answer is usually "another planet" but then why couldn't the materials have formed here just as easily?
    • Re:this theory again (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:38PM (#32148216)
      Organic materials are just a class of chemicals - nothing to do with life as such. By now, it is pretty clear from spectroscopic measurements that the universe is full of simple organic matter like methane, methanol, ethanol, acetic acid, simple amino acids and the like. So it is not that surprising that this comet fragments carry organics. They form all the time, all over the place. This is of course essential for the formation for life, but the availability of small organics is not the critical step.
    • ...why couldn't the materials have formed here just as easily?

      Because saying "panspermia" is much more fun in a naughty sort of way.

    • Re:this theory again (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @02:16PM (#32148428)

      It unfortunately doesn't appear to be freely available online anywhere, but you might be interested in this survey paper [nature.com] if you have access to a university library.

    • by MrMr (219533)
      The organic materials on the meteors came from earth Mark I.
      Sheesh, everybody knows that.
  • WOW! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:39PM (#32148220)

    These fragments are 6000 years old. Truly mind boggling.

  • Megatron (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ssentinull (1763168)
    Transfomers got it wrong, he obviously landed in ANTarctica
  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @01:46PM (#32148262)
    The panspermian theory seems to be a paradox. If organic matter came from somewhere else to here, how did it get to that somewhere else? And more importantly, how did it form?
    • > If organic matter came from somewhere else to here, how did it get to that somewhere else?

      FedEx - overnite.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)

      It's not really a paradox, it just isn't an answer to how life originally arose.

      (It is perfectly consistent for life to have originated somewhere else and spread here)

    • (You say "organic matter" but I'm assuming you mean "biological matter". "Organic" doesn't mean alive.)

      Originally, the idea was that life formed on a planet, once, and was blasted into space by meteor impacts, drifted to infect other planets. Rinse, repeat.

      These days, the originators are all fringe science woo-woo.

      A better modern form is the idea that prokaryotic life developed in the star-forming nebula that gave rise to our solar system. (Or even the one that begat the galaxy.) Lots of different places

    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @02:33PM (#32148522) Homepage Journal

      Organic matter != Life though. I'm not sure if Panspermia brought life to Earth or not, but the organic matter in comets isn't alive. It's just the building blocks that could potentally have been involved in life coming into being.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        It's just the building blocks that could potentally have been involved in life coming into being.

        Or what's left of life after being boiled and frozen...

    • by mangu (126918) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @03:01PM (#32148658)

      Organic matter can mean a lot of different things. Simple organic molecules may form in the gas clouds in space which give origin to planetary systems.

      More complex molecules are a different thing, many of those require liquid water to form. The most plausible answer is that compounds such as methane were formed in space and accreted into earth and the other planets.

      Then chemistry in the earth atmosphere and oceans built those into more and more complicated structures until life began.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And more importantly, how did it form?

      That's easy. When a star goes nova, it does nucleosynthesis, which means that carbon (and lithium and oxygen etc) are synthesized by helium, which has been synthesized by hydrogen.
      Now, Sun is third or fourth generation star, which means that it is made of leftovers of other stars which have gone nova (or supernova). Part of the staff of other stars was carbon.
      As Carl Sagan used to say, our bodies are made by star dust.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      The panspermian theory seems to be a paradox. If organic matter came from somewhere else to here, how did it get to that somewhere else? And more importantly, how did it form?

      I wouldn't say it was a paradox, more of a cop out.

  • How do you find it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @02:05PM (#32148358) Journal
    When reading the summary, I wondered how they could find such a small thing. Here is what we find in the story:

    To find these sub-millimetre-scale particles, Duprat and colleagues melted and sieved untainted snow that fell near the French-Italian CONCORDIA station in central Antarctica between 1955 and 1970.

    I suppose since there isn't much dirt in Antarctica, any that you find has as good a chance of being a meteorite as anything else.

  • hey (Score:2, Funny)

    by arcite (661011)
    Send Kurt Russel to investigate!
  • How does one find a grain of sand in the snow of a polar ice cap AND figure out that it is from outer space!?

  • Makes you wonder how in the world they ever found them.
  • but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is.

    I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won.

  • The particles in my body date back to the big bang.
  • Reading this, I started wondering why no religions form around new scientific discoveries about the origin of life. Widespread spiritual beliefs and offshoots still seem to form in these latter days, like Scientology, but none seem to form around scientific indications of the origin of life. Scientology, for example, prefers to believe in aliens - something unproven - rather than, say, panspermia, which is a more likely origin story.

    Why aren't there worshippers of great panspermia being, whose seed rains do

  • "the particles measure less than 0.25 mm across"; so how the hell am I supposed to turn that into my epic sword?
  • Also in the news:

    Bear poop found in the wood.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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