ChatGPT: Imagining a Future Press Release About CERES

Image (Credit): The dwarf planet Ceres. (NASA)

I was playing with ChatGPT recently and asked it to create a NASA press release that would be issued if we ever found life on the dwarf planet Ceres. I wanted to see what it would create. Here it is:

NASA Press Release: NASA Discovers Possible Signs of Life on Ceres

NASA scientists studying data from the Dawn spacecraft have discovered evidence of possible life on Ceres, one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The discovery was made possible through the use of sophisticated instruments on the spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since 2015.

The data collected by Dawn suggests the presence of complex organic molecules on the surface of Ceres, which are often associated with the presence of life. In addition, scientists have detected the presence of hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor of Ceres, providing further evidence of the potential for life on this small world.

“We are excited to announce that we have discovered evidence of possible life on Ceres,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This discovery is a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of the scientists and engineers involved in the Dawn mission, and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for astrobiology.”

The discovery of possible life on Ceres is significant because it suggests that life may be more common in the universe than previously thought. It also has important implications for future exploration of our solar system and beyond.

“We have always been fascinated by the possibility of finding life beyond Earth,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This discovery gives us new hope that we may not be alone in the universe, and it underscores the importance of continuing to explore our solar system and beyond.”

The Dawn spacecraft is currently in its final orbit around Ceres and will continue to collect data for as long as its instruments remain operational. NASA scientists are also planning future missions to Ceres to further study the potential for life on this small world.

For more information on this exciting discovery, visit the NASA website at

NASA Headquarters

It’s a fun fictional piece that builds on some real information, though it has its weak points. Here are some of my observations:

  • Spacecraft Information – Outdated: NASA lost contact with the Dawn spacecraft in November 2018, so a recent finding like this is unlikely unless it was buried in earlier data still being studied. The press release later states that the Dawn spacecraft is in its final orbit and still collecting data. While the spacecraft might remain in orbit for decades to some, its mission is over, as NASA noted when it stated: “Dawn spent every last drop of hydrazine making science observations of Ceres and radioing them back so we could learn more about the solar system we call home.”
  • Scientific Information – Good Speculation: Ceres does have hydrothermal vents that some have speculated could harbor life.
  • People – Actual Officials: The two NASA officials quoted are real officials – Administrator Bill Nelson and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate – saying the sorts of things you would expect people in their positions to say.

Overall, it is a good demonstration of what these chat bots can do – piece together a credible enough summary to keep you guessing. Just don’t post this anywhere without full context. I do not want to start any rumors.

Space Stories: Approaching Lucy, Chinese Space Ambitions, and Conan the Bacterium

Image (Credit): Image from NASA’s Lucy spacecraft showing the Earth and Moon from 890,000 miles away (look closely – the moon on the left is a very pale dot). (NASA/Goddard/SwRI)

Here are some recent stories of interest. “NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft Captures Images of Earth, Moon Ahead of Gravity Assist

On October 13, 2022, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft captured [the above] image of the Earth and the Moon from a distance of 890,000 miles (1.4 million km). The image was taken as part of an instrument calibration sequence as the spacecraft approached Earth for its first of three Earth gravity assists. These Earth flybys provide Lucy with the speed required to reach the Trojan asteroids — small bodies that orbit the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter. On its 12 year journey, Lucy will fly by a record breaking number of asteroids and survey their diversity, looking for clues to better understand the formation of the solar system. “China Considering Mission to Ceres and Large Dark Matter Space Telescope

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is considering potential missions including a Ceres orbiter and a huge telescope to hunt for clues about the nature of dark matter. More than 20 candidates are vying for funding for further study under the Chinese Academy of Sciences Strategic Priority Program on Space Science, also known as the New Horizon Program, and are currently undergoing evaluation. “Extremophiles on Mars Could Survive for Hundreds of Millions of Years

One of Earth’s toughest microbes could survive on Mars, lying dormant beneath the surface, for 280 million years, new research has shown. The findings increase the probability that microbial life could still exist on the Red Planet. Deinococcus radiodurans, nicknamed “Conan the Bacterium,” is one of the world’s toughest microbes, capable of surviving in radiation strong enough to kill any other known life-form. Experiments have now shown that if Conan the Bacterium or a similar microbe existed on Mars, it could survive 33 feet (10 meters) beneath the surface, frozen and dried out, for 280 million years.

Space Stories: Radioactive Ceres, Moon Clues, and Starlink’s Shine

Here are some recent stories of interest. “Asteroid Ceres Was Radioactive — And That Could Explain a Lot

A team of U.S. planetary scientists has shown that unexpected surface features on the dwarf planet Ceres can be explained by radioactive decay in its interior long ago. If they are right, their model could explain features not just on other dwarf planets, but also on some of the icy moons in the outer solar system. “One More Clue to the Moon’s Origin

Researchers discover the first definitive proof that the Moon inherited indigenous noble gases from the Earth’s mantle. The discovery represents a significant piece of the puzzle towards understanding how the Moon and, potentially, the Earth and other celestial bodies were formed. “Starlink Satellites Are Still Bright

The new generation of Starlink satellites remain above the accepted brightness threshold. It’s one of the stranger sights of the modern Space Age. Recently, we found ourselves under the relatively dark skies of southern Spain. Sure enough, within a few minutes, we caught sight of a chain of flashing ‘stars’ winking in and out of view in quick succession.

Television: The End of “The Expanse”

Source: The Expanse on Amazon Prime.

This week Amazon Prime released the final episode of the The Expanse, a brilliant space drama that has been running for six seasons, first on Syfy and later on Amazon Prime. Based on a series of books written by James S. A. Corey (a two-person team), it tells the story of a settled solar system where the old problems dividing all of us are simply moved onto a larger playing field. Mars and Earth are jockeying for power while the miners in the asteroid belt creating the necessary resources feel forgotten and abused. War ensues as does new discoveries (and related weapons), which simply get folded into the ongoing battles. And the playing field widens again as a portal, called the Ring, gives the warring factions access to more star systems and planets.

The television series is a wonder to watch, with excellent acting, fantastic story-lines, and the creative use of venues in our solar system, from Ceres in the asteroid belt to the various moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. It is also a very dark show as it illustrates an ugly side to our expansion into new worlds – ruthless ambition, terrorism, revolution, and civil war.

I have not seen anything like it since the remake of Battlestar Galactica, and I would put it on the same level (with some better special effects given the time that has passed). But the most important part is the characters, and you will find a team in the center of this series that you would follow anywhere.

If you are new to the series, you are in for a lot of fun. If you are finishing the series like me and you have only experienced the television show, I think the next step is to dig into the books to live in this world a little longer.

Extra: Check out this Den of Geek article concerning whether The Expanse will continue in any format – “The Expanse: The Possibility of a Season 7 or Sequel Series.”