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A meteorite that exploded above Canada 11 years ago has provided strong evidence that life’s building blocks came from space.

Fragments of the rock that landed on Tagish Lake, British Columbia, yielded a mix of organic compounds.

They included amino acids and monocarboxylic acids, both essential to the evolution of the first simple life forms on Earth.

Analysis of the chemicals revealed information about their history on the asteroid from which the meteorite came, and lent weight to the theory that organic material originates in gas and dust clouds between the stars.

We are star dust: Lake Tagish in British Columbia yielded fragments of space rock that have led scientists to conclude that the building blocks of life originated in clouds of dust and gas between the stars

We are star dust: Lake Tagish in British Columbia yielded fragments of space rock that have led scientists to conclude that the building blocks of life originated in clouds of dust and gas between the stars.

If the theory is right, the building blocks of life would have been spread throughout our developing solar system.

They may, for example, also have provided a foothold for life on Mars.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Herd, of the University of Alberta, said: ‘The mix of pre-biotic molecules, so essential to jump-starting life, depended on what was happening out there in the asteroid belt.

‘The geology of an asteroid has an influence on what molecules actually make it to the surface of the Earth.’

The findings were published today in the journal Science.

Proof: Scientists now believe there is compelling evidence that human beings owe their existence to organic compounds found in deep space

Proof: Scientists now believe there is compelling evidence that human beings owe their existence to organic compounds found in deep space.

Experts are confident that the chemicals they analysed were not the result of contamination from the Earth.

Mark Sephton, a geochemist at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the study told The Scientist: ‘It’s real evidence of hydro-synthesis occurring in asteroids and creating compounds that might be biologically useful,’

Meteorite expert: Dr Chris Herd of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta
The four-metre-wide Tagish Lake meteorite exploded after heating up as it passed through the atmosphere 30 to 50 kilometres above the Earth.Pieces of the rock rained down on the frozen, snow-covered lake where they were preserved in sub-zero temperatures.

Water in the parent asteroid altered the organic compounds buried within it, leaving signatures that could be read in the meteorite fragments.

They indicated that the organic material had existed and undergone chemical processing since the birth of our solar system.

A man found nearly two pounds of the space rock in 2000 after the meteorite had exploded.

In order to preserve them and prevent any contamination he kept them frozen until 2008, when a consortium of Canadian research institutions bought them for $850,000.

 

 

Via DailyMail

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