NASA Probe Finds ‘Alien Dust’ Near Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft that orbits and studies Saturn, has found a tiny bit of dust that has come from beyond our solar system.

The special ‘alien dust’ (only 36 grains) is vastly different from the other dust that the spacecraft has detected since 2004. Scientists have concluded that these specks of material came interstellar space. Whoa, right? These particular 36 grains of microscopic dust particles were traveling at high speed through space at the moment when Cassini detected them. They were moving at a rate of 45,000 mph, a speed so fast the dust can essentially avoid being trapped by our sun’s gravitational forces (which is what normally happens). This dust is super duper fast compared to our lame dust.

Why do space scientists study space dust anyway? Well, by doing so, it can help scientists learn more about how stars, planets, and ultimately, our universe was originally formed.

One of the Cassini spacecraft investigators explained how (normal) dust is formed: “Cosmic dust is produced when stars die, but with the vast range of types of stars in the universe, we naturally expected to encounter a huge range of dust types over the long period of our study.” This dust is different though. After analyzing the grains it was revealed they were made of minerals, not ice. The composition was mostly rock-forming elements like magnesium, silicon, iron and calcium. This chemical compound of the dust along with its speed and the way it moves in different directions, proves it has come from a different area of the universe entirely.

Does it mean there is alien life outside of our solar system? No, not yet, but it’s one tiny speck closer.

[CNN]