Space

Scientists discover life supporting organic compounds and water inside a pair of meteorites

In 1998 two meteorites were found from two different locations, one outside Morocco and the other one in Texas. Now, after a rigorous analysis of the two space rocks, the scientists have discovered that the meteorites contain biological material from other planets. The analysis was done by an international group of scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. Scientists informed that the space rocks were hovering inside the asteroid belt of our Solar System for more than billion years.

After analyzing the meteorites, scientists found out that these space rocks contain organic compounds needed for life. The organic compounds include hydrocarbons, amino acids, and other organic substances along with some traces of water. This is for the first time that scientists got hold of a pair of meteorites that contain both liquid water as well as a mixture of complex organic compounds, which are considered as main ingredients for life. As per the scientists, the possible sources for the meteorites might be Ceres, a brown dwarf planet considered as the largest object in the asteroid belt, or, it might asteroid Hebe, the main source of meteorites that fall on Earth.

First, the scientists sampled the tiny blue and purple crystals from the meteorites, and when they tried to explore the chemical content of the salt crystals, they found it that it contains organic matter along with liquid water. This indicates our Earth is not the only cosmic object to harbor life. There is a possibility that other neighboring planets or cosmic objects might also be supporting life. Also, the latest discovery could throw some light on our solar system’s early history. David Kilcoyne, a scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), said that latest discovery of organic matter and water in meteorites is just like finding fly in amber. ALS provided the X-rays to scan the organic chemical component of the salt crystals. The X-ray microscope also took help of an advanced technique known as XANES (X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy).

Lead author of the study Queenie Chan, a planetary scientist and postdoctoral research associate at The Open University in the U.K told, “This is really the first time we have found abundant organic matter also associated with liquid water that is really crucial to the origin of life and the origin of complex organic compounds in space. She further said that their team is looking at the organic ingredients that can lead to the origin of life. The study says that out of there was life at the early stage of the universe, then these salt crystals- containing meteorites might possess a good chance of trapping biomolecules or life inside them.

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