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: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

3D inks that can be erased selectively

16.08.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>