Essential compounds for life found in two meteors

Federico Mansilla
Enero 12, 2018

Similarities of the crystals found in the meteorites are also structural clues the two might have collided with each other and mixed fragments and materials.

A detailed analysis of the chemical makeup within tiny blue and purple salt crystals sampled from the two meteorites, known as Monahans and Zag, found a mix of complex organic compounds such as hydrocarbons and amino acids, according to the study published Wednesday in the US journal Science Advances.

The elements found in the crystals are significant organic ingredients that can lead to the origins of life.

The rocks carried water and organic matter that could not only give us new insights into the Solar System's history but also bolster the chances of finding life outside Earth.

Two headstrong space rocks, that independently wrecked into earth in 1998, after transmitting in our solar system's asteroid belt for eons, have something else to share; the components of life.

The origin story of the meteors boils down to two places, the first being Ceres, which is a brown dwarf planet and the largest object found in the adjoining asteroid belt.

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The journal Science Advances published the research this week. 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. However, the organic chemistry of the same is somewhat relatable to the preservation aspect of prehistoric insects as solidified droplets of sap. They date from 4.5 billion years ago, around the earliest days of our solar system.

Similarly, they took a tiny crystal from within the Monahans meteorite and dissolved it away, like dropping salt in a pot of super-clean boiling water.

Both the rocks showing evidence of similar organic structures point out to the fact that the parent asteroids of the rocks might have crossed each other during their journey thereby resulting in an exchange of materials.

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.

The researchers are still left with a lot more samples to be studied to obtain an accurate answer to the presence of life in the endless space.

Nevertheless, this breakthrough is monumental as it goes a long way to us understanding the process by which life on Earth may have formed, as well as what it might look like if life similarly appeared elsewhere in the universe.

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