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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.

Exploratour - Life in the Solar System

This is an image of Comet Kohoutek.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Believe it or not, many scientists believe that life may have begun on these distant, solar system traveling objects. Out in their distant home, the Oort Cloud, comets are exposed to the kind of cosmic radiation which provides the energy needed to form long, complex molecules such as amino acids, proteins, and even polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's).

As we've said, because it is cold, it may take millions of years for these molecules to form. So the possiblity that life forms as sophisticated as bacteria could presently live in this environment is remote. Nevertheless, over the age of the solar system, and because comets periodically migrate to the inner solar system and swoop around the sun, spilling portions of their surfaces in their wakes, it is thought that comets may have brought some of life's beginnings to the inner solar system where they could thrive.

Read more about this possibility by reading our life section. Read more about different sort of unsophisticated life forms found on the primordial Earth by taking the Exporatour of Life on Earth.

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA