ASTRONOMICAL BODIES, 2010

in collaboration with Dr Terence Kee and team at the University of Leeds.
with special thanks to Katie Marriott, EPSRC, NESTA and the Royal College of Art.

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LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE

How did chemistry become biology without all the key components in the soup of life?

Dr Kee and team proposes that meteorites brought reactive and soluble species of phosphorus to early Earth in a special meteorites called Schreibersite meteorites. These are iron-based rocks containing phosphonates and phosphinates - reactive forms of phosphorus formed in outer space. Could this extraterrestrial chemical have kick-started life? If so, how does this change our perception of how we originated? With other proposed areas of space capable to sustain life, could meteorites have seeded life-promoting chemicals elsewhere too? Might we not be alone?

In our own solar system, the areas astrobiologists believe life could exist or potentially exist is expanding. Beyond the earlier proposals such as subterranean Mars within the haitational zone*, new regions of space are being suggested. These include Europa, the ice moon of Jupiter and more recently Titan, a moon of Saturn that expels great geysers of water into space. And these are just in our solar system...

NASA's Kepler Mission aims to search beyond our solar system for Earth-like planets that could be habitable by life. The mission began in February 2010 and has already made some tantilising discoveries, with countless more Earth-like planets on the horizon.

If there could be many more habitable planets and meteorites are seeding chemicals throughout the Universe, could it be likely that life does exist elsewhere?

Habitational Zone - is the optimum region of space for life to exist: neither too far away or too close to the sun on planets neither too big or too small . Exemplified by Earth's conditions.

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