Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Meteorites are rich in the building blocks of life, claims new research

13.03.2008
Amino acids that are the building blocks of life have been found in their highest ever concentration in two ancient meteorites which crashed to Earth millions of years ago, scientists claim today.

Scientists believe their research, published online in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, provides fresh insights into the origins of life on Earth.

Amino acids form the basis of proteins and enzymes, which are the building blocks of all biological life. They have been found in ancient carbon rich meteorites, which are fragments of asteroids formed shortly after the birth of the solar system.

The research team believes that the presence of amino acids in these meteorites provides clear evidence that the early solar system was richer in life’s raw materials than previously thought and that these materials may have helped to kick-start life on this planet.

Lead researcher, Dr Zita Martins, from Imperial College London’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, explains:

“We know that approximately 3.8 to 4.5 billion years ago the Earth underwent heavy bombardment from meteorites which brought molecules to our planet, just before life emerged on Earth. However, there is a gap in knowledge about how life came into being. Our work has shown that it may have been meteoritic amino acids and other biologically useful compounds that spurred life into existence.”

The team found amino acids in two ancient meteorites called CR chondrites, which were found in Antarctica in the 1990s. By analysing the carbon content of these meteoritic amino acids, the scientists were able to determine that, unlike Earth based amino acids which prefer a lighter variety of carbon, their samples were made from a heavier carbon which could only have been formed in space.

Dr Martins says her work provides new insights into the chemistry of the early solar system and the resources available for early life.

“Our increasing understanding of the materials available for the first living systems in the solar system suggests that we are all products of cosmic chemistry,” said Dr Martins.

Dr Zita Martins conducted her research whilst based at the Leiden University, Netherlands, in association with the Carnegie Institution of Washington and NASA JPL in the US.

Colin Smith | alfa
Further information:
http://arxiv.org/abs/0803.0743v2
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

Im Focus: Cost-effective and individualized advanced electronic packaging in small batches now available

Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.

Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Concert of magnetic moments

14.06.2019 | Information Technology

Materials informatics reveals new class of super-hard alloys

14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

New imaging modality targets cholesterol in arterial plaque

14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>