Comets could have seeded life on Earth
A concerted effort resulted in a remarkable discovery that supports the origin of life on our planet was the result of comets. Chemists from California and Hawaii have presented data that shows conditions in space can result in the formation of complex dipeptides.
The research from Berkeley and Manoa, respectively, show how these linked pairs of amino acids, which are shared building-blocks of all forms of life, may have been deposited on the planet by a comet or from meteors
According to a story published by Phys.Org, these comets or meteors catalyze the formation of proteins (polypeptides) and enzymes, and possibly more complex molecules like sugars. these enzymes are required for life to exist.
Chemist Richard Mathies of UC Berkeley, and the co-author of a paper that was published last week, stated,
"It is fascinating to consider that the most basic biochemical building blocks that led to life on Earth may well have had an extraterrestrial origin."
The paper is due to be published on 10 March 2013 in the The Astrophysical Journal.
Research scientists have known about the existence of basic organic molecules for quite some time, as they have found the molecules in many meteorites which have impacted the planet. However, until this discovery, they have not been able to find the complex molecular structures which are 'prerequisites for our planet's biology.'
These new discoveries allow for the possibility that the previous assumptions that life must have originated on this planet to be questioned more seriously.
According to the story, the research included test materials being put into an…
"…ultra-high vacuum chamber chilled to 10 degrees above absolute zero (10 Kelvin), Seol Kim and Ralf Kaiser of the Hawaiian team simulated an icy snowball in space including carbon dioxide, ammonia and various hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane and propane. When zapped with high-energy electrons to simulate the cosmic rays in space, the chemicals reacted to form complex, organic compounds, specifically dipeptides, essential to life."
Continuing, the researchers analyzed the resulting organic residues, using sophisticaged equpment that Dr. Mathies designed, called the 'Mars Organic Analyzer,' which serves uses ultrasensitive detection to 'identify small organic molecules in the solar system.'
The result was the identification of nine amino acids and two dipeptides, which are capable of catalyzing biological evolution
For more information, links, charts, graphs and access to other research materials, please read the story at Phys.Org