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2004 Annual Science Report

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Reporting  |  JUL 2003 – JUN 2004

Executive Summary

The central goal of the Goddard Center for Astrobiology is to understand how organic compounds are created, destroyed, and altered, during stellar evolution leading up to the origin of life on a planet, such as Earth. Planetary systems form by collapse of dense interstellar cloud cores. Some stages in this evolution can be directly observed when stellar nurseries are imaged, while other stages remain cloaked behind an impenetrable veil of dust and gas. Yet to understand the origin of life on Earth, we must first develop a comprehensive understanding of the formation of our own planetary system. To understand the probability of finding life elsewhere we must understand both the similarities and differences between the evolution of our own system and that of a typical star.

Dense cloud cores are very cold (10-50K); their dust grains are coated with ices comprised of water and organic ... Continue reading.

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