With an aim of decoding the origination of life on Earth, scientists have created an artificial comet and discovered the presence of one of the key elements of genetic material in living organisms which suggests that comets and asteroids bombardment might have brought life to Earth nearly four billion years ago.
Scientists have found sugar ribose “R” in RNA (Ribonucleic acid) in the cometary ice. Against the previous theory, the new study says that the R is more abundant in the universe than previously thought which points towards the existence of extraterrestrial life.
RNA is among the three essential macromolecules along with DNA and proteins that are necessary for all known life forms. Life is not possible without these three compounds. RNA forms under specific conditions and scientists believe that the first strand of RNA came on comets.
To make the artificial comet, scientists used three compounds ammonia, methanol and water as these compounds were present in the ancient time during the appearance of very first life form. Scientists kept the compounds in a vacuum and supplied heat which caused the compounds to sublimate leaving behind a thin film of material. The process was continued for six days and scientists obtained 100 micrograms of the artificial cometary ice residue.
It isn’t the first time that any team of researchers has created artificial cometary ice. However, it is the first time when researchers have found sugar like ribose in the sample of artificial cometary ice.
“Our ice simulation is a very general process that can occur in molecular clouds as well as in protoplanetary disks,” Meinert said. “It shows that the molecular building blocks of the potentially first genetic material are abundant in interstellar environments.”
The study has hinted towards the presence life in the artificial cometary ice but scientists still need to confirm it real samples of cometary ice. More importantly, the study has given a new insight into the origin of life and has strengthened the possibility of existence of extraterrestrial life.
The study appeared in the journal Science.