Did asteroids sow seeds of life on earth? New NASA study discusses possibilities

NASA revealed that meteor bombardment on ancient earth might have sowed seeds of life in the blue planet

Asteroid approaching earth
Representative image of asteroid approaching earth Pixabay

A new study by Japanese and international researchers including scientists at NASA has discovered a sugar molecule named ribose in two meteorites. It should be noted that ribose is a vital ingredient of RNA, and it acts as a messenger molecule that delivers data from amino acids to genes. The new discovery is considered quite crucial, as it will be a strong indication that asteroids might have brought life to the earth.

Asteroid collision brought life to earth?

Around 4.6 billion years ago, during the early years of the solar system, cosmic ice rays were blasted by the sun's rays, and the gradual chemical reaction caused sugar molecules to form on the surface of asteroids. These holy grains of life might have reached the earth after one of those asteroids collided with the blue planet.

"If correct, meteorite bombardment on ancient Earth may have assisted the origin of life with a supply of life's building blocks," said NASA in a statement. Yoshihiro Furukawa, a researcher at the Tohoku University and the lead author of the study revealed that this study provides the first evidence of ribose in the space, and it's delivery to the earth.

Building blocks of life

"Other important building blocks of life have been found in meteorites previously, including amino acids and nucleobases, but sugars have been a missing piece among the major building blocks of life. The research provides the first direct evidence of ribose in space and the delivery of the sugar to Earth. The extraterrestrial sugar might have contributed to the formation of RNA on the prebiotic Earth which possibly led to the origin of life," said Furukawa.

Follow up studies await return of Hayabusa 2

Jason Dworkin, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the co-author of the study revealed that this new study report will help to analyze pristine samples from primitive asteroids like Ryugu and Bennu which will be returned by JAXA's Hayabusa-2 probe and NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft respectively.

This article was first published on November 21, 2019
Related topics : Asteroid Nasa
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