SETI bioastro: Cosmic dust in terrestrial ice and pre-life molecules present in comets

Date: Mon Jul 31 2006 - 21:00:17 PDT

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    Cosmic Dust in Terrestrial Ice

    For the last 30,000 years, our planet has been hit by a constant rain of
    cosmic dust particles. Two scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth
    Observatory (LDEO) at Columbia University in New York and the
    Alfred-Wegener-Institut (AWI) for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven,
    Germany, have reached this conclusion after investigating the amount of the
    helium isotope 3He in cosmic dust particles preserved in an Antarctic ice
    core over the last 30,000 years. They have shown that this rare helium
    isotope in cosmic dust exceeds that of terrestrial dust in ice by a factor
    of 5,000. Moreover, measurements of the amount of 4He a helium isotope
    much more common on Earth in the Antarctic ice strongly suggest a change
    of origins in terrestrial dust between the last Ice Age and the interglacial
    warm period we currently live in.

    Cosmic dust in ice cores sheds light on Earth's past climate

    Pre-life Molecules Are Present in Comets

    "Evidence of atomic nitrogen in interstellar gas clouds suggests that
    molecules may be present in comets, a discovery that gives a clue about the
    early conditions that gave rise to life, according to researchers from the
    University of Michigan and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics."

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