The origin of this organic dust has been discussed for more than half a century. Researchers have now found the first evidence of organic matter essential to life on Earth on the surface of an S type. asteroid.
more than Earthly meteorites come from Type S asteroids like Itokawa, so knowing that they may contain essential components of life on our planet is an important step forward in our understanding of how the conditions for life’s formation arise. To date, most research on organic matter has focused on carbon-rich (Class C) asteroids.
Upon examining the sample, the team found that organic matter from the asteroid itself had evolved over time under extreme conditions – including water and organic matter from other sources.
This is similar to the process that occurred on Earth and helps us better understand how early forms of Earth’s biochemistry were just an extension of the chemistry that occurred within many asteroids.
“These results are really exciting because they reveal intricate details about the asteroid’s history and how its evolutionary path is very similar to Earth’s prebiotic path.” She said Earth scientist Queenie Chan from Royal Holloway University in London.
Evolutionary models can take us back about 3.5 billion years to a time when life was little more than competing nucleic acid sequences.
Take a step back and we’re forced to think about how elements like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon fuse together to form incredibly complex molecules capable of self-organizing into materials that behave like RNA, proteins, and fatty acids.
In the 1950s, when researchers first looked at the thorny question of how simpler ingredients could automatically cook organic soups, Experiments showed Conditions on Earth’s surface can do enough.
After nearly seven decades, our attention has shifted to the slow and steady chemical processes within the very rocks that coalesce into worlds like ours.
ليس من الصعب العثور على الدليل. It’s now clear that a steady rain of rocks and ice billions of years ago could have delivered cyanide molecules, ribose sugar, and even amino acids – with a generous donation of water – to the surface. في الارض.
But the extent to which meteorite chemistry is contaminated by things on Earth leaves room for doubt.
Since Hayabusa returned ten years ago, more than 900 original meteorite dust particles taken from his cargo have been separated and stored in the JAXA cleanroom.
Fewer than 10 have been studied for markers of organic chemistry, but all have molecules consisting mostly of carbon.
Itokawa is the so-called stone (Or CelesteAsteroid class, or s class. After the first studies of his material, he is also believed to be Normal costochondritis – A relatively unmodified type of space rock that represents a more primitive case of the inner solar system.
Given that these types of asteroids make up a good portion of the minerals that decay on our planet, and are not generally believed to have much organic chemistry, these early results were interesting to say the least.
Chan and colleagues took just one of these dust grains, particles 30 microns wide that closely resemble the South American continent, and conducted a detailed analysis of its composition, including a study of its water content.
They found a rich variety of carbon compounds, including evidence of the disruption of polycyclic particles of extraterrestrial origin and graphite structures.
“After being studied in detail by an international team of researchers, our analysis of a single pill, dubbed“ Amazon ”, preserved both primitive (unheated) and processed (heated) organic materials to less than ten microns (one thousandth of a thousand Centimeter). far, ” Chan said.
“The organic matter that has been heated indicates that the asteroid has been heated to more than 600 degrees Celsius in the past. The presence of unheated organic matter very close to it means that the fall of the primordial organic matter has reached the surface of Itokawa after the asteroid has cooled. ”
Itokawa had an interesting story about a rock that had nothing to do better than float in lazy around the sun for a few billion years, after being altered with good cooking, drying, and then rehydrating it with a new layer of fresh materials.
Although its history is not as exciting as the history of our planet, asteroid activity describes the cooking of organic matter in space as a complex process and is not limited to asteroids rich in carbon.
Late last year, Hayabusa2 returned with a sample of a Class C close-to-Earth asteroid named Ryugu. Comparing the contents of its payload with the contents of its predecessor will undoubtedly bring more knowledge about the development of organic chemistry in space.
The question of the origin of life and its apparent uniqueness on earth is a question to which we will seek answers for a long time. But each new discovery points to a story that extends far beyond the safe and warm pools of our fledgling planet.
This research was published in Scientific Reports.