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Scientists discover first protein of extraterrestrial origin

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posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 09:57 AM
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"For the first time, scientists found a complete protein molecule in a meteorite... and they're pretty sure it didn't come from Earth."

The universe is vast, and we are a tiny speck on a tiny speck. We'd be ridiculously naive to assume that the only life existent is here on Earth.
This comes shortly after amino acids and ribose, an RNA component were discovered in meteorites.
What will we find next?

After analyzing samples from the meteorite Acfer 086, a team of researchers from Harvard University and the biotech companies PLEX Corporation and Bruker Scientific found that the protein’s building blocks differed chemically from terrestrial protein. As they write in their research, which they shared on ArXiv on Saturday, “this is the first report of a protein from any extra-terrestrial source.”
...
The research doesn’t determine where this unearthly protein came from or how it formed — the scientists are just confident it didn’t come from here.
Futurism

Here's the summary of the team's report submitted to ArXiv:

Hemolithin: a Meteoritic Protein containing Iron and Lithium

This paper characterizes the first protein to be discovered in a meteorite. Amino acid polymers previously observed in Acfer 086 and Allende meteorites [1,2] have been further characterized in Acfer 086 via high precision MALDI mass spectrometry to reveal a principal unified structure of molecular weight 2320 Daltons that involves chains of glycine and hydroxy-glycine residues terminated by iron atoms, with additional oxygen and lithium atoms. Signal-to-noise ratios up to 135 have allowed the quantification of iron and lithium in the various MALDI fragments via the isotope satellites due to their respective minority isotopic masses 54Fe and 6Li. Analysis of the complete spectrum of isotopes associated with each molecular fragment shows 2H enhancements above terrestrial averaging 25,700 parts per thousand (sigma = 3,500, n=15), confirming extra-terrestrial origin and hence the existence of this molecule within the asteroid parent body of the CV3 meteorite class. The molecule is tipped by an iron-oxygen-iron grouping that in other terrestrial contexts has been proposed to be capable of absorbing photons and splitting water into hydroxyl and hydrogen moieties.


Adam&Evil
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edit on 28-2-2020 by ADAMandEVIL because: ETA fixes




posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:00 AM
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a reply to: ADAMandEVIL

Quite interesting news, S&F!

I would really be surprised if life would be limited to the third rock from the sun. Being a layman, I would assume that complex molecules such as proteins would be indicative of life. On the other hand, organic compounds are abundant in the universe and have been found in many places.

The question is: would proteins of extraterrestrial origin qualify as evidence for extraterrestrial life? I would hope so, but it's not quite clear from the abstract. Judging from the article quote below, though, it doesn't seem to directly constitute proof for ET life:


What it doesn’t confirm is that there’s extraterrestrial life out there. The research doesn’t determine where this unearthly protein came from or how it formed — the scientists are just confident it didn’t come from here.


But maybe life was still involved in the creation of such proteins, who knows? Nonetheless, a very interesting article!

edit on 28-2-2020 by jeep3r because: text



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 11:23 AM
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Knowing what little I know about proteins and the way that different proteins can interact with one another (e.g., Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease), the idea of a an alien protein being introduced into our biosphere is kind of terrifying, at least potentially so.

I wonder how this protein, if it is indeed of extraterrestrial origin, would interact with terrestrial proteins, or if it would at all.

Zombie apocalypse, anyone?



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:30 PM
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Why is it so hard to believe This little guy lives on earth en.wikipedia.org...
And is quite happy In space no suite needed also quite happy in a jar dried out for 125 years Just add water .
150 million years agaio a BIG rock hits earth and some of the IMPACT materiel sprayed up and out and reached escape volisty and some of the critters cought up in that stuff survived the impact and the ride .' If this little guy went along for the ride and 100 years later arrived at a ooo water soaked mars and survived the ride down guess who is waiting for us to come and give him a ride home .
Really its not a question of I life is some ware else But when will we find it and ware will be the first place we find it .
My bet is mars . After all 150 million years agio mars was wet had a dense atmosphere oceans and rivers .
To bad mars took such a beating from rocks hitting it .



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 12:30 PM
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Why is it so hard to believe This little guy lives on earth en.wikipedia.org...
And is quite happy In space no suite needed also quite happy in a jar dried out for 125 years Just add water .
150 million years agaio a BIG rock hits earth and some of the IMPACT materiel sprayed up and out and reached escape volisty and some of the critters cought up in that stuff survived the impact and the ride .' If this little guy went along for the ride and 100 years later arrived at a ooo water soaked mars and survived the ride down guess who is waiting for us to come and give him a ride home .
Really its not a question of I life is some ware else But when will we find it and ware will be the first place we find it .
My bet is mars . After all 150 million years agio mars was wet had a dense atmosphere oceans and rivers .
To bad mars took such a beating from rocks hitting it .



posted on Feb, 28 2020 @ 06:41 PM
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If all it took was organic molecules and proteins to make something live, the universe would be crawling with life like a rainforest. But getting all those things plus more wrapped up in a nice little semi-porous cell membrane that will then decide to replicate itself is a huge step. Really huge. In some ways, that makes me think that living things have been around since the universe "began," having slipped from the "future" into spacetime null conduits and splattered everywhere and everywhen. Huge time loops.

Well, it's easy to think that life must have evolved somewhere first for it to exist now and to be tossed into the past and future like that. But that's not how time works. In this case, it was effect then cause.
edit on 28-2-2020 by Blue Shift because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 10:45 AM
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a reply to: midnightstar

Tardigraves are not happy in space. 1/3 will be dead within 10 days of exposure to space. They are an aquatic species and are very unhappy in anything other than water. Because of this they can dry themselves out to survive periods without water, but they are completely inactive in this state and will eventually die.

It is really cool though.



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 11:02 AM
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a reply to: ADAMandEVIL

Cool find. Gonna argue their conclusion though.

The protein they found has normal earthly amino acids. The anomaly is the iron atom terminations at the end of the chain. This is most likely due to the meteorite (which is comprised mostly of iron) reaction with biological matter that it impacted upon hitting earth. This is the much more likely conclusion because the amino acid glycine (the one they mention in the protein polymer) has a melting point of 451 degree F, and therefore would have melted off the meteorite when it was travelling through the ionosphere if the protein was actually extra-terrestrial. Instead it seems more plausible that the meteorite hit biological life upon impact with earth and the iron in the meteorite reacted with its protein chains.

the "enhancements" they describe may be due to the excited state of the energy released from the meteorite when it impacted earth.
edit on 29-2-2020 by cooperton because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2020 @ 12:39 PM
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a reply to: ADAMandEVIL

Organic molecules and amino acids like Glycine have been detected in interstellar gas clouds

As demonstrated by the Classic Urey-Miller experiments in the 1950's

www.sciencefacts.net...


Simple compounds like Methane (CH4), Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Water (H2O). Ammonia (NH3) when exposed to energy sources like UV radiation, electric discharges will quickly generate complex amino acids

Such compounds have been found in comets and meteorites from space confirm the process is active over mthe universe



edit on 29-2-2020 by firerescue because: (no reason given)

edit on 29-2-2020 by firerescue because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 1 2020 @ 12:52 AM
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a reply to: cooperton

The main weird thing is actually the deuterium/hydrogen ratio. They detected way more deuterium in it than you’d expect from something of terrestrial origin.



posted on Mar, 1 2020 @ 01:29 AM
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a reply to: firerescue




Such compounds have been found in comets and meteorites from space confirm the process is active over mthe universe


While that might be true, almost all (99.9999..%) of meteorites and comets originated in our solar system.
If there are extraterrestrial proteins, they almost certainly came from a planet in our own system, or at least one that used to exist here.



posted on Mar, 1 2020 @ 08:53 AM
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originally posted by: nataylor
a reply to: cooperton

The main weird thing is actually the deuterium/hydrogen ratio. They detected way more deuterium in it than you’d expect from something of terrestrial origin.


That's why I guessed the excited state to have come from impact of the meteor with earth. That sort of energy could have caused higher levels of deuterium.



posted on Mar, 1 2020 @ 05:42 PM
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"pretty sure"


let me know when they are 100% sure and not pretty sure.



posted on Mar, 2 2020 @ 09:10 AM
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Thing is, there's not clear boundary between life and non-life. Complex molecules can rebuild themselves, form complex structures, and even replicate.

Viruses, for example, are not living organisms. They are just DNA or RNA molecules, wrapped in a shell of proteins. When they infect and reproduce, they don't actually do anything; it all happens passively.

On an even more basic level, you have prions - mishapen protein molecules. They even reproduce too, by changing the stucture of normal proteins to be same as them.

Globules of lipid (read - fat) molecules can form a semi-permeable membrane, allowing some chemicals in but not the others. It's like the most basic foundation of a living cell.

So, to sum all these ramblings up, a lot of protein-based stuff out there might not even be proper living organisms, but just complex organic molecules and proteins doing their stuff.
edit on 2-3-2020 by wildespace because: (no reason given)



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