"Ingredients for Life Found" in Space Rocks

Two meteorites crashed to our planet in 1998 after billions of years in the asteroid belt.

The elements found in the crystals are significant organic ingredients that can lead to the origins of life.

The most basic ingredients for life have been discovered in two ancient meteorites, some 20 years after they were discovered.

When the two rocks fell to Earth, one in Texas and the other a few months later in Morocco, they were preserved by Nasa for further studies.

"This is really the first time we have found abundant organic matter also associated with liquid water that is really crucial to the origin of life and the origin of complex organic compounds in space", said lead author Dr. Queenie Chan, a planetary scientist and postdoctoral researcher at the Open University, UK.

While we still don't have a way to confirm exactly what first caused life to develop on Earth (we probably won't ever be entirely sure unless we manage to invent time travel to go back and check), this theory has gained a lot of credence recently, thanks to a new study into a pair of very old meteorites.

Liquid water and other organic compounds essential for life have been discovered on ancient meteorites that fell to Earth nearly 20 years ago.

Using spectrometers and ion beams, scientists could look at the molecular composition of salt crystals found in the meteorites. You may submit it for our evaluation here and if you do, I might reconsider the claim that we're anywhere closer today to understanding the origin of life than we were before these space rocks were closely studied.

"What's even more incredible is that the salt crystals from both meteorites are believed to be from the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, Ceres, which suggests that it could be a suitable place for the formation of life". The crystals were around two millimeters in size and contained organic solids and water traces a mere fraction of the width of human hair.

The Science Advances published the abstract of the study. "They have been stored for nearly 20 years and we have been waiting for the development of lab equipment powerful enough to analyse what is in each crystal at nanoscopic scales." explains lead author Dr Queenie Chan.

"There are also clues, based on the organic chemistry and space observations, that the crystals may have originally been seeded by ice- or water-spewing volcanic activity on Ceres".

"Everything leads to the conclusion that the origin of life is really possible elsewhere", says Chan. Yokohama National University associate professor Yoko Kebukawa said, "Combined with other evidence, the results support the idea that the organic matter originated from a water-rich, or previously water-rich parent body - an ocean world in the early solar system, possibly Ceres".

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