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

Postado Janeiro 12, 2018

The new study supports previous findings by Nasa's Dawn spacecraft, which suggest that the building blocks of life may be present on neighbouring asteroids.

The finding was made by an worldwide team of researchers, which included scientists from the Open University (OU) in the United Kingdom and Nasa's Johnson Space Centre in Texas.

"While the rich deposits of organic remnants recovered from the meteorites don't provide any proof of life outside of Earth, the meteorites' encapsulation of rich chemistry is analogous to the preservation of prehistoric insects in solidified sap droplets".

If it turns out that life requires not just a habitable planet, but also a very specific visit from a space rock that's covered in organic juices, it's worth assuming that life is unfortunately not as common an occurrence as we might like to hope.

"Things are not as simple as we thought they were", co-author Queenie Chan, a planetary scientist at Open University in the United Kingdom, said in a press release.

Back then, only liquid water was found in the two meteorites. The scientists think the meteorites originated from asteroids like Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt and considered potentially habitable, and Hebe, another relatively large asteroid, which might be close enough to exchange materials the way subway riders exchange germs.

Open University
Open University

Experiments on the salt crystals were conducted in the cleanest laboratories of the NASA Johnson Space Center to avoid the contamination from foreign elements such as dust in the air.

The team used numerous evolved techniques to carefully analyze the microscopic salt crystals inside the rocks which provided an in-depth study of the organic chemistry dominating the rocks.

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.

This led them to believe that the salt crystals may have a different origin to the meteorites. The scientists suspected that the crystals might have originally been seeded by ice- or water-spewing volcanic activity on Ceres. Both meteors are incredibly old and have some wonderful salt compounds crushed into their mass, but at the time of their initial arrival, all scientists could tell for sure was that they were both a bit damp - they contained traces of liquid water that probably came from outer space.

'We believe the meteorite may have come from a stony asteroid, maybe an S-Type asteroid, which are not carbon-rich and are found in the same asteroid belt'.