March 25, 2023

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The building blocks of life were found in an asteroid

The Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 has detected more than 20 types of amino acids, the building blocks of life on Earth, in an asteroid. This was announced by the Japanese Ministry of Education and stated, among other things, Japan Times

For the first time, amino acids are found in A asteroid explore. This is evidenced by analyzes of samples brought to Earth by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa2.

The space probe left Earth in 2014. After three years and 3.2 billion kilometers of space travel, in 2018 it reached its fixed position above the asteroid Ryuguna, which orbits the Sun in an elliptical orbit. The following year, Hayabusa2 landed on the asteroid twice and collected the first samples ever from the subsurface of an asteroid.

Previous analyzes of the samples had already shown the presence of water and organic matter, but amino acids have now been discovered.

RNA evolution

Amino acids are the building blocks of life. They help form proteins, act as neurotransmitters in the brain and are essential in all life on Earth. Scientific Journal temper nature A study published in May showed that amino acids played an important role in the evolution of RNA, the first self-replicating molecules.

Scientists don’t know how these amino acids ended up on Earth. Some theories assume that they came from outer space, via asteroids such as Ryuguna. At least it seems possible now.

Amino acids

“Evidence for amino acids in the lower layer of asteroids increases the likelihood that materials will reach Earth from space,” said Kensei Kobayashi, professor emeritus of astrobiology at Yokohama National University. kyodo news

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An asteroid that falls to Earth is called a meteor. Amino acids have previously been found on meteorites, but it was not known if these amino acids were actually found in space.

However, the most popular theory remains that the amino acids that gave rise to life on Earth also formed on Earth.