Scientists have discovered a large number of organic compounds in samples from the Ryugu mission that were brought to Earth, including the so-called. "prebiotic organic."
According to the website Space.com, living organisms utilize several amino acids to form proteins necessary to regulate chemical reactions and construct complex structures such as hair and muscles. These molecules may also be formed in the deepest space, like asteroids. The scientists' discovery strengthens the theory that life on Earth might be brought to the planet from space.
Hiroshi Naraoka, the lead author of the study at the Japanese University of Kyushu, says that even in the unfavorable space environment, prebiotic molecules are capable of spreading throughout the solar system, such as after leaving the asteroid itself, for example, as a result of a collision with another celestial body or for other reasons.
In Ryugu's samples, carbon is found in combination with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and other chemical elements. On Earth, these compounds are the basic building blocks for all living organisms. However, compounds may arise from chemical reactions that are different from living organisms.
According to a NASA official, the Ryugu findings are broadly consistent with what can be found in other carbonaceous meteorites. These components are found in too small quantities that are difficult to detect with instruments.
Samples from Ryugu will be compared with ones from asteroid Bennu collected in 2020, when NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission will finish in 2023, providing another opportunity to explore trace building blocks for life in carbon-rich asteroids.
The results of a research dedicated to Ryugu have been published in the journal Science on February 24.
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