Building blocks of life seen in meteorites that fell in 1998

Meteorite

Although two 4.5-billion-year-old meteorites crashed to Earth in 1998, it's taken until now to uncover some of their secrets.

An global team, including scientists from the Open University (OU) in the United Kingdom and Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Texas, found amino acids - which form the basis of proteins, hydrocarbons - organic compounds made up of hydrogen and carbon, and liquid water - the most important ingredient required to support life, within the salt crystals.

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. Now, after 20 long years, detailed analysis of the tiny blue and purple salt crystals that came from these meteorites has led scientists to the vital signs of life. These space rocks carry similarities with our planet when it boils down to the basic ingredients of our life. 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.

Organic remnants recovered from the meteorites don't provide any proof of life outside of Earth, Chan noted.

That makes them enticing for further study, so an global team of scientists analyzed the organic compounds in 2-mm long salt crystals inside the two meteorites.

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.

"We revealed that the organic matter was somewhat similar to that found in primitive meteorites, but contained more oxygen-bearing chemistry", study co-author Yoko Kebukawa said. 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 journal Science Advances published the research this week.

But if life did exist in some form in the early solar system, these salt crystal-containing meteorites raise the possibility of trapping life or biomolecules within their salt crystals, she said.

Dr Chan added: 'We believe that the salt may have originated in Ceres or some other carbon-rich asteroid body, while the meteorites come from a different parent body - one that has been heated to 950°C (1750°F) so any trace of liquid water present in it would have gone.

"Everything leads to the conclusion that the origin of life is really possible elsewhere", says Chan.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Britney Spears reportedly signs new Las Vegas deal
This report is great news for fans of Spears that were anxious that they had seen the last of Britney in Las Vegas. The source said: "They are really trying to compete with some of the more established venues in Las Vegas".

Bharti Airtel partners with Amazon
Their Prime service offers better content as compared with Airtel's own Airtel TV and that of the competing telecoms. That said, here is a step by step guide to active the free Amazon Prime subscription via Airtel.

Stocks Movement Analysis: Spirit Realty Capital, Inc. (SRC), Southern Company (SO)
The rating was maintained by Macquarie Research on Wednesday, October 28 with "Neutral". (NYSE:HCA) for 52,776 shares. Voya Investment Management Llc sold 255,201 shares as the company's stock declined 5.08% while stock markets rallied.

Pakistan suspends intelligence, military cooperation with US
It means that an earlier promised repayment of 900 million U.S. dollars from Washington to Islamabad has suddenly cancelled. The Spokesperson said all states had a legitimate right to pursue peaceful uses of space technologies.

Rob Lowe Slams Bella Thorne for Complaining Over Santa Barbara Traffic
The singer's tweet made reference to the concern tour of her boyfriend, rapper Mod Sun . Lowe wasn't the only one unhappy with Thorne's insensitive comments.

Other news