Navigation Links
Scientists discover cosmic factory for making building blocks of life
Date:9/15/2013

Scientists have discovered a 'cosmic factory' for producing the building blocks of life, amino acids, in research published today in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The team from Imperial College London, the University of Kent and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that when icy comets collide into a planet, amino acids can be produced. These essential building blocks are also produced if a rocky meteorite crashes into a planet with an icy surface.

The researchers suggest that this process provides another piece to the puzzle of how life was kick-started on Earth, after a period of time between 4.5 and 3.8 billion years ago when the planet had been bombarded by comets and meteorites.

Dr Zita Martins, co-author of the paper from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says: "Our work shows that the basic building blocks of life can be assembled anywhere in the Solar System and perhaps beyond. However, the catch is that these building blocks need the right conditions in order for life to flourish. Excitingly, our study widens the scope for where these important ingredients may be formed in the Solar System and adds another piece to the puzzle of how life on our planet took root."

Dr Mark Price, co-author from the University of Kent, adds: "This process demonstrates a very simple mechanism whereby we can go from a mix of simple molecules, such as water and carbon-dioxide ice, to a more complicated molecule, such as an amino acid. This is the first step towards life. The next step is to work out how to go from an amino acid to even more complex molecules such as proteins."

The abundance of ice on the surfaces of Enceladus and Europa, which are moons orbiting Saturn and Jupiter respectively, could provide a perfect environment for the production of amino acids, when meteorites crash into their surface, say the researchers. Their work further underlines the importance of future space missions to these moons to search for signs of life.

The researchers discovered that when a comet impacts on a world it creates a shock wave that generates molecules that make up amino acids. The impact of the shock wave also generates heat, which then transforms these molecules into amino acids.

The team made their discovery by recreating the impact of a comet by firing projectiles through a large high speed gun. This gun, located at the University of Kent, uses compressed gas to propel projectiles at speeds of 7.15 kilometres per second into targets of ice mixtures, which have a similar composition to comets. The resulting impact created amino acids such as glycine and D-and L-alanine.


'/>"/>

Contact: Colin Smith
cd.smith@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-46712
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. ASU scientists strike scientific gold with meteorite
2. Scientists engineer strain of MERS coronavirus for use in a vaccine
3. Singapore scientists discover new RNA processing pathway important in human embryonic stem cells
4. Peering into genetic defects, CU scientists discover a new metabolic disease
5. Youthful stem cells from bone can heal the heart, Temple scientists report
6. UF scientists encounter holes in tree of life, push for better data storage
7. Scientists discover new bat species in West Africa
8. Worlds scientists, researchers and nutrition experts convene to explore the benefits of mushrooms
9. Now hear this: Scientists discover compound to prevent noise-related hearing loss
10. NIH scientists describe how anthrax toxins cause illness, death
11. UCLA scientists receive $2 million grant to improve quality of donor livers for transplant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/15/2017)... --  ivWatch LLC , a medical device company focused on improving ... of its ISO 13485 Certification, the global standard for medical device ... (ISO®). ... Monitoring device for the early detection of IV infiltrations. ... "This is an important milestone for ivWatch, as it ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, ... University, a leader in dairy research, today announced a ... to help reduce the chances that the global milk ... of this dairy project, Cornell University has become the ... the Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), an ... identity verification solutions, announced today they will participate as ... 15 thru May 17, 2017, in Washington ... Center. Identity impacts the lives of ... quickly evolving digital world, defining identity is critical to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... announced today that they have entered into a multiyear collaboration to identify and ... researchers with additional tools for gene editing across all applications. , Under the ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... October ... ... (https://www.onramp.bio/ ) has launched Rosalind™, the first-ever genomics analysis platform specifically designed ... bioinformatics complexity. Named in honor of pioneering researcher Rosalind Franklin, who made ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... CA, USA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... to take place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The ... influencers as well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Tbilisi, Georgia (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... disaster, taking the lives of over 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living ... the greenovative startup Treepex - based in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally ...
Breaking Biology Technology: