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Scientists have taken fragments from a meteorite in the Antarctic and by bombarding it with heat and pressure have recreated conditions at the beginning of life as we know it, they believe. They have found that the rock emitted ammonia under primordial conditions, an essential compound in the production of amino acids, the so-called building blocks of life.
The researchers analysed the nitrogen atoms within the ammonia and determined that the atomic isotope did not match those currently found on Earth, discarding the possibility that the ammonia resulted from contamination during the experiment.
The earliest physical evidence of life on Earth in the shape of fossils dates back to 3.8 billion years Nobody really knows how life started on earth but it is thought have been a freak occurrence sparked by the extreme pressure and heat mixing with chemicals from outer space.
These findings, made by Arizona State University, suggest that these chemicals came from meteorites, which seeded the Earth with the necessary chemicals. The work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A meteorite found in Antarctica could lend weight to the argument that life on Earth might have been kick-started from space, scientists are claiming.
Chemical analysis of the meteorite shows it to be rich in the gas ammonia. It contains the element nitrogen, found in the proteins and DNA that form the basis of life as we know it.
The researchers say meteorites like this could have showered the early Earth, providing the missing ingredients for life.
They collected powder from the meterorite, treated it with water at high temperature and pressure, and analysed the resulting compounds.
They found the rock released compounds including hydrocarbon chains and a large amount of ammonia, which is rich in nitrogen.
This abundant release of ammonia from a carbonaceous chondrite meteorite is unprecedented, Pizzarello and colleagues write.
Chemical analysis of the nitrogen from the meteorite shows that the atomic isotope is not the same as those currently found on Earth. The researchers say that knocks out the possibility that the ammonia resulted from contamination during the experiment.
"The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites' origin to to cosmochemical regimes where ammonia was pervasive," the authors write. That, they speculate, was the first step on the pathway to life on Earth.
Originally posted by Shuzitzu
Anyone with a remote amount of intelligence thinking about the concept of the Universe and how we came to exist will not even need evidence to understand that the materials that made up life came from meteorites.