Extraterrestrial existence of “source of life” confirmed for the first time, what does this mean?

A long time ago, people on Earth began to think about life-related issues. How was life on earth born? In this vast universe, is it only the earth where life appears under various coincidences…

Not long ago, people found another possibility that might answer these questions. The Hayabusa2 space probe launched by Japan in 2020 returned to Earth and found more than 20 amino acids after analyzing samples it collected from the asteroid Ryugu.

▲ Picture from: JAXA

In December 2014, under the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) asteroid exploration program, the Hayabusa2 asteroid probe took off on a rocket.

The goal of this probe is to explore the origin and evolution of the solar system by investigating S-type asteroids (predominantly siliceous) and C-type asteroids (carbon-containing asteroids). The purpose of exploration also includes the origin of life. In June 2018, Hayabusa 2 arrived at a C-type asteroid named Ryugu.

▲ Picture from: JAXA

Before returning to Earth, Hayabusa2 collected two samples from different locations on the C-type asteroid "Ryugu", one sample from the surface of the "Ryugu" planet, and the other sample from the impact crater formed after the artificial collision. subterranean material.

Amino acids, which are organic compounds, are components of proteins. In the current mainstream theory of the origin of life, proteins are the basis of life, so amino acids can also be regarded as the "source of life".

▲ Picture from: JAXA

In the 1950s, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey conducted an experiment in which gases such as methane, ammonia and hydrogen present in the original atmosphere were sealed in a large atmosphere. The flask, and the other end is connected to a flask with water. After heating the water, the steam produced enters a large flask containing chemicals, simulating a miniature primitive atmospheric environment.

▲ Picture from: Ars Technica

Meanwhile, in this environment, where electrical discharges are used to simulate lightning, the cooled vapor condenses into a liquid that is collected like water into the ocean. In the final collected samples, abundant organic compounds such as amino acids, various fatty acids, and uric acid were found.

The results of this experiment were considered to indicate that the ancient earth was like a "primitive soup", and life was born after complex activities such as meteorite fall and volcanic eruption.

▲ Image from: learn-biology

In fact, amino acids have also been found on meteorites that fell to the earth before, but since meteorites may be affected by the earth's environment during the fall, it is uncertain whether there are conditions for the birth of life in extraterrestrial space.

Therefore, the discovery of amino acids on extraterrestrial planets this time has given people a bold conjecture. On the early Earth, perhaps it was the impact of matter from space that made life possible. If not only the earth has amino acids, then there is also the possibility of life on other planets.

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

However, at present, this is only a possibility. Although amino acids may lead to the birth of life under various conditions, the process in the middle is complicated and difficult to understand. Any error in the middle link may cut off the road to the birth of life. But at least people now know that in the infinite universe beyond Earth, there are other possibilities for life to emerge.

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