New Research Proves Ancient Meteorites Contain 'Building Blocks of Life' on Earth

13 January, 2018, 16:21 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Researchers analysed salt crystals found in the two meteorites which are 4.5 billion years old

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.

"This is really the first time we have found abundant organic matter also associated with liquid water that is really crucial to the origin of life and the origin of complex organic compounds in space", Queenie Chan, a planetary scientist at the Open University in Britain and the study's lead author, said in a statement. Now, a comprehensive chemical analysis of the two meteorites suggests their organic matter could come from an ancient ocean world, giving them the potential to kickstart life wherever they land.

As carbon is the basic building block of all life forms on earth, the report has raised questions about the possibilities of life elsewhere in our solar system.

'This proves to us the salt crystals and the meteorites come from two different asteroids.

It turns out that within the salt crystals on these meteors, there exists a bunch of the ingredients that are necessary to create life, including organic compounds such as amino acids. The traces of water in the crystals are believed to almost 4.5 billion years old.

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"We revealed that the organic matter in these meteorites (Monahans smashed into the ground near a children's basketball game in Texas in March 1998 and Zag hit near Morocco in August 1998) was somewhat similar to that found in primitive meteorites, but contained more oxygen-bearing chemistry", said Dr. Yoko Kebukawa, from Yokohama National University, Japan. These encompass Ceres, a brown dwarf planet that is a huge entity in the asteroid belt, and the asteroid Hebe, a considerable origin of meteorites that cascade on Earth. The rocks had been preserved at NASA's Johnson Space Center, and fragments were carefully removed and then tested with an X-ray beamline and microscope, as well as other chemical experiments. You may submit it for our evaluation here and if you do, I might reconsider the claim that we're anywhere closer today to understanding the origin of life than we were before these space rocks were closely studied.

What they found was simply that both meteorites did contain some liquid water, any further analysis however was limited due to the technology of the period.

Using spectrometers and ion beams, scientists could look at the molecular composition of salt crystals found in the meteorites. They believe the crystals may have originated from ice or water spewing out of Ceres and may have moved throughout the cosmos to finally reach Earth.

"The asteroidal parent body, potentially asteroid 1 Ceres, shows evidence for a complex combination of biologically and prebiologically relevant molecules", says the study published in Science Advances.

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