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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Building Blocks of Life Found on an Asteroid in Space for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have discovered the building blocks for life on an asteroid in space.

Japanese researchers have discovered more than 20 amino acids on the space rock Ryugu, which is more than 200 million miles (320 million kilometers) from Earth.

Scientists made the first detection of their kind by studying samples retrieved from a near-Earth asteroid by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, which landed on Ryugu in 2018.

In 2019, the spacecraft collected 0.2 ounces (5.4 grams) from the asteroid’s surface and subsurface, placed it in an airtight container and launched it on a precisely-precise trajectory back to Earth.

RELATED: We May Finally Know Why the Spinning-Top Asteroid Ryugu Has Such a Weird Shape

Scientists believe that instead of being one large boulder, Ryugu is composed of many smaller rocks, and that the asteroid got its unusual spinning top shape from its rapid rotation.

As a carbonaceous, or C-type, asteroid, Ryugu contains large amounts of carbon-rich organic material, most of which originated from the same nebula that gave birth to the Sun and the planets of the Solar System about 4.6 billion years ago. , Previous sample analysis has also suggested that the asteroid harbors water.

“The Ryugu material is the most ancient material in the Solar System that we have ever studied,” said Hisayoshi Yurimoto, a professor of geology at Hokkaido University and leader of the Hayabusa 2 mission’s preliminary chemical analysis team. Science conference in March

Blackcrusheduprocksinapetridish(Yada et al., nature astronomy2021)

Unlike organic molecules found on Earth, samples from pitch-black asteroids, which scientists found reflect only 2 to 3 percent of the light that hits them, have not been altered by interactions with Earth’s environment, Thereby giving them a chemical structure very close. Which is from the early solar system.

“We detected various prebiotic organic compounds in the samples, including proteinogenic amino acids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons similar to terrestrial petroleum, and various nitrogenous compounds,” said Hiroshi Naroka, a planetary scientist at Kyushu University and leader of the organic material-searching team. Contains compounds.” In the sample, said at the conference.

“These prebiotic organic molecules can spread throughout the Solar System, potentially in the form of interplanetary dust from the Ruigu surface by impact or other causes.”

Initially, sample analysis detected 10 amino acid types, but this number has now increased to more than 20, according to Japan’s Ministry of Education. Amino acids are the fundamental building blocks of all proteins and are essential prerequisites for the existence of life on our planet.

A 2019 study in the journal Geochimica and Cosmochimica Acta Organic molecules from space were found in a group of 3.3-billion-year-old rocks discovered in South Africa, raising the possibility that some – if not all – of these first came to Earth on comets and asteroids. Ryugu’s findings provide evidence that asteroids carry these molecules even stronger.

“Proving the amino acids present in the subsurface of asteroids increases their chances of coming to Earth from space,” Kensei Kobayashi, professor emeritus of astrobiology at Yokohama National University, told Kyodo News.

That means the amino acid is likely to be found on other planets and natural satellites — a clue that “life could have originated in more places in the universe than previously thought,” he said.

Researchers are continuing to analyze Ryugu samples, and more data on the asteroid’s formation and its composition will soon become available.

And Ryugu isn’t the only space rock being investigated. In 2021, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected a rock sample from another diamond-shaped asteroid, named Bennu.

When the sample returns to Earth in 2023, signs of the organic material it contained could provide scientists with important clues into the evolution of the solar system and its contents, as well as how life emerged.

Related Content:

The 7 Weirdest Asteroids: The Weirdest Space Rocks in Our Solar System

‘False fossils’ scattered on Mars may complicate search for life on the Red Planet

6 reasons astrologers are hoping for life on Mars

This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.

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