Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Meteorites a rich source for primordial soup

17.03.2008
The organic soup that spawned life on Earth may have gotten generous helpings from outer space, according to a new study.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution have discovered concentrations of amino acids in two meteorites that are more than ten times higher than levels previously measured in other similar meteorites. This result suggests that the early solar system was far richer in the organic building blocks of life than scientists had thought, and that fallout from space may have spiked Earth’s primordial broth.

The study, by Marilyn Fogel of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory and Conel Alexander of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism with Zita Martins of Imperial College London and two colleagues, will be published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science.*

Amino acids are organic molecules that form the backbone of proteins, which in turn build many of the structures and drive many of the chemical reactions inside living cells. The production of proteins is believed to constitute one of the first steps in the emergence of life. Scientists have determined that amino acids could also have formed in some environments on the early Earth, but the presence of these compounds in certain meteorites has led many researchers to look to space as a source.

The meteorites used for the study were collected in Antarctica in 1992 and 1995 and held in the meteorite collection at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Antarctica is the world’s richest hunting ground for meteorites, which are naturally concentrated in so-called blue ice regions and held in cold storage by the ice.

For the amino acid study, the researchers took small samples from three meteorites of a rare type called CR chondrites, thought to contain the oldest and the most primitive organic materials found in meteorites. CR chondrites date from the time of the solar system’s formation. During an early phase of their history the meteorites were part of a larger “parent body,” such as an asteroid, which later was shattered by impacts.

The analysis revealed that while one sample showed a relatively low abundance of amino acids, the other two meteorites had the highest ever seen in primitive meteorites—180 and 249 ppm (parts per million). Other primitive meteorites that have been studied generally have amino acid concentrations of 15 ppm or less. Because organic molecules from extra-terrestrial sources have ratios of carbon isotopes different from those of Earthly biological sources, the researchers were able to rule out contamination as a factor in their result.

“The amino acids probably formed within the parent body before it broke up,” says Alexander. “For instance. ammonia and other chemical precursors from the solar nebula, or even the interstellar medium, could have combined in the presence of water to make the amino acids. Then, after the break up, some of the fragments could have showered down onto the Earth and the other terrestrial planets. These same precursors are likely to have been present in other primitive bodies, such as comets, that were also raining material onto the early Earth.”

Conel Alexander | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ciw.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Atmospheric scientists reveal the effect of sea-ice loss on Arctic warming
11.03.2019 | Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

nachricht Sensing shakes
11.03.2019 | University of Tokyo

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Levitating objects with light

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique for in-cell distance determination

19.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Stellar cartography

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>