Rock & Gem

Citizen Scientists Find Overlooked Asteroids


We all depend upon scientists to conduct, well, science. But a recent project to spot asteroids proved we are all scientists at heart!

Per the journal Science, in 2019 the European Space Agency put out a call for volunteers to look over 37,000 images provided by the Hubble Space Telescope over a 20-year period. That call was answered by some 11,400 regular folks, AKA “citizen scientists.” ‰eir task? To painstakin­gly look through the tens of thousands of images in search of asteroids.

‰e result? More than 1,000 previously unidentiŒed asteroids between Mars and Jupiter are now identiŒed. Not only that; results provided by citizen scientists were fed into computers, where artiŒcial intelligen­ce bumped that total to 1,701.

Per an article in the journal Science, “quenched lava may have helped form long RNA strands vital to primordial organisms.” In other words, volcanoes sparked life on planet Earth!

When life arose, it did so quickly. Scientists believe Earth coalesced from cosmic dust 4.5 billion years ago but remained a hellish hot-house for another billion years. Evidence now suggests life emerged not long a“er: as early as 3.7 billion years ago. Scientists have conducted lab experiment­s showing basaltic glasses could well have helped RNA molecules to line up and pave the way for life as we know it.

Some “origin-of-life researcher­s” agree with the new study whereas others remain unconvince­d. When exploring conditions reaching back billions of years, a healthy degree of skepticism is certainly warranted. Stay tuned!

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