Amino Acids Are Building Blocks Of Life. Japan Probe Finds It On Asteroid-share market daily
Japanese researchers have found amino acids – considered to be building blocks of life – in asteroid samples brought back to Earth by the Hayabusa 2 probe. More than 20 types of amino acids have been detected in the samples, which were brought back in December 2020 from the asteroid Ryugu, Japan Times reported.
The acids discovered are very important substance for living things and could hold clues to understanding the origins of life, the publication quoted an education ministry official as saying.
Amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins, which is why they are called building blocks of life. These proteins make movement possible, transport vital materials within the cell, help defend body against infection and control the activity of genes.
According to Nikkei, the discovery has brought scientists one step closer to knowing the full picture of the origin of life on Earth.
“Proving amino acids exist in the subsurface of asteroids increases the likelihood that the compounds arrived on Earth from space,” Kensei Kobayashi, professor emeritus of astrobiology at Yokohama National University, told Kyodo News.
The professor further said that this discovery increases the chance of finding amino acids on other planets and will challenge the theory that other planets are lifeless, he added.
The Hayabusa 2 brought 5.4 grams of surface material from the asteroid, circling the Earth 300 million kilometres away. What’s special about this sample is that not weathered by sunlight or cosmic rays, unlike the amino acids found on meteors which arrive on Earth.
These meteors burn up when they enter Earth’s atmosphere, and become contaminated with micro-organisms.
Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a full-fledged investigation into the samples in 2021, which also involved research institutes like the University of Tokyo and Hiroshima University.
Our solar system is believed to have formed from a cloud of gas and dust, called the solar nebula, which began to condense on it gravitationally approximately 4.6 billion years ago. As this cloud contracted, it began to spin and shaped itself into a disk revolving about the highest gravity mass at its centre, which later became our Sun.