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Key building blocks of life found in asteroid samples brought back to Earth

Published Jun 7th, 2022 5:18PM EDT
Large planetoid in empty space
Image: Mopic/Adobe

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Back in 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft collected samples from an asteroid known as Ryugu. Located nearly 200 million miles from Earth, the asteroid has been a focus of studies for some time. Now, Japan’s education of ministry has shared the findings from the samples Hayabusa2 collected, noting that it discovered key building blocks of life on the asteroid.

Samples from an asteroid contain the key building blocks of life

building blocks of life found in asteroid material
Material from the asteroid Ryugu obtained by Japan’s asteroid probe Hayabusa2. Image source: JAXA

Ryugu is a carbon-rich fragment of a much larger asteroid which we believe formed from the dust and gas that helped form our solar system. As such, the age of those materials could give us a solid look at how those materials formed space as we know it. It could also tell us more about what the early solar system looked like 4 billion years ago.

Scientists say that the asteroid is the “most primitive material in the solar system we have ever studied.” (via On that asteroid, though, they found the key building blocks of life, amino acids.

Amino acids are basically the building blocks of proteins. As such, they are absolutely essential to organic molecules for life. One of the most intriguing things about this discovery is that scientists say they have discovered similar molecules on ancient rocks from Earth. As such, it raises new questions about the part asteroids played in creating life on Earth.

How organic material forms in extraterrestrial conditions

alien world orbiting starImage source: dottedyeti / Adobe

A geochemist working on the Hayabusa2 team explained that they want to better understand how organic compounds formed in space. The building blocks of life have been found on more than just asteroids. They’ve also been found on Mars, and they’re surely present on other planets, too.

With the chances of alien life being so high, some even believe hostile alien civilizations could reside in our galaxy, it’s improbable that these building blocks can’t form in extraterrestrial conditions. However, one of the biggest questions we need to answer is how they form. And, how they play a part in forming organic life on planets and other celestial bodies.

Scientists have theorized in the past that organic life on Earth could have traveled to Earth on comets and asteroids. Some even claim that octopuses are alien lifeforms. But, figuring out exactly how those materials formed on asteroids, within the vacuum of space, is another matter.

Either way, finding the building blocks of life on the asteroid Ryugu is yet another point in the board of knowledge we’ve gained about the universe. With more studies and research, we’ll hopefully better understand how those molecules came to be.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.