"Like a fly in amber:" two meteorites with ingredients for life

January 12, 2018 by  
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Two meteorites crashed to our planet in 1998 after billions of years in the asteroid belt. And they had something in common besides reaching Earth the same year: they were the first meteorites we’ve found to have both complex organic compounds like amino acids and hydrocarbons, and liquid water . They may have come from the asteroid Hebe and the dwarf planet Ceres. Around 20 years after the two meteorites – Zag and Monahans – plummeted to Earth, landing in Texas and Morocco, laboratory equipment is powerful enough to scrutinize blue salt crystals on the meteorites, according to The Open University . The 4.5-billion-year-old meteorites contained what the university described as the building blocks for life: liquid water and complex organic compounds together. Scientist David Kilcoyne at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) compared the discovery to a fly in amber for the encapsulation of rich chemistry, according to the laboratory . Related: New NASA discovery hints at water elsewhere in the solar system The salt crystals have been preserved at NASA’s Johnson Space Center , with experiments performed in what Queenie Chan of the center and The Open University described in a statement as the cleanest laboratories on Earth. Avoiding contamination was crucial so scientists could determine what compounds originated from space . The crystals were around two millimeters in size and contained organic solids and water traces a mere fraction of the width of human hair. The salt crystals could have come from Ceres, based on space observations and their organic chemistry – seeded by water- or ice-spewing volcanic activity, per the laboratory. Yokohama National University associate professor Yoko Kebukawa said, “Combined with other evidence, the results support the idea that the organic matter originated from a water-rich, or previously water-rich parent body – an ocean world in the early solar system , possibly Ceres.” Chan said, “Everything leads to the conclusion that the origin of life is really possible elsewhere.” The journal Science Advances published the research this week. 13 scientists from institutions in the United States and Japan contributed. Via Berkeley Lab and The Open University Images via NASA/JPL-Caltech and Queenie Chan/The Open University, U.K.

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"Like a fly in amber:" two meteorites with ingredients for life

Light-filled Indianapolis home is a base for Airstream adventurers

January 12, 2018 by  
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Architecture studio Haus completed a modern energy-efficient home with its very own Airstream port. Commissioned by clients with a love of traveling, the Copperwood House in Zionsville, Indianapolis boasts passive and active green-building strategies to achieve an HERS Performance Rating of 43, that the architects say is 60% better than a standard new energy code-compliant home. The geothermal -heated home is equipped with low-energy appliances; all lighting, security, and the HVAC can be remotely controlled via smartphone. Set on a 19-acre lot with natural habitat and wetlands , the Copperwood House was carefully sited to minimize landscape disturbance and interference with an abandoned on-site pipeline. The site constraints, views, and passive solar principles informed the home’s unusual Z-shaped layout. The low-lying home is clad in thermally treated timber ash that doubles as a rainscreen system and will develop a weathered patina over time. The timber facade is complemented by white cement panels and topped with a slanted metal roof with a deep overhang. Related: Geothermal-powered Lake Austin Home is tuned in to nature Natural light pours into the modern interior through full-height glazing, clerestory windows, and skylights, some of which are operable to take advantage of the stack effect. Full-height glazing creates the appearance of living outdoors, while natural materials like cork floors and clear Southern Pine stairs tie the interiors to the landscape. The master suite and two bedrooms are located in the east wing. An open-plan dining room, kitchen, and living room are placed at the heart of the home that’s wrapped in glazing. The client’s Airstream was integrated into the design and sheltered beneath the soaring metal roof. The Airstream is connected to power, sewer, and water, and is used as a guest room and office when docked at home. + Haus Images via Haus and The Home Aesthetic

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Light-filled Indianapolis home is a base for Airstream adventurers

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