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Ingredients for life found in water-containing meteorites for 1st time: study

Society 12.01.2018 | 16:52

WASHINGTON, 12 January (BelTA - Xinhua) - For the first time, scientists have found the presence of organic matter, the ingredients essential for life, in two liquid-water-containing space rocks that separately crashed to Earth in 1998 after circulating in our solar system's asteroid belt for billions of years.

A detailed analysis of the chemical makeup within tiny blue and purple salt crystals sampled from the two meteorites, known as Monahans and Zag, found a mix of complex organic compounds such as hydrocarbons and amino acids, according to the study published Wednesday in the U.S. journal Science Advances.

"This is really the first time we have found abundant organic matter also associated with liquid water that is really crucial to the origin of life and the origin of complex organic compounds in space," said lead author Queenie Chan, a planetary scientist and postdoctoral research associate at the Open University in Britain.

Organic remnants recovered from the meteorites don't provide any proof of life outside of Earth, Chan noted.

But if life did exist in some form in the early solar system, these salt crystal-containing meteorites raise the possibility of trapping life or biomolecules within their salt crystals, she said.

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