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Life’s blueprint may have come from asteroids, new discovery shows

Published Apr 28th, 2022 6:31AM EDT
Large planetoid in empty space
Image: Mopic/Adobe

Scientists have made another startling discovery on asteroids. According to new analysis, scientists have discovered the last two of five informational units of DNA and RNA that had yet to be found in meteorites. Previously many believed that DNA formation in meteorites was unlikely. However, this new discovery shows that all of life’s blueprints can form on these objects, making them prime for delivery to Earth and other planets.

Life’s blueprints may have come from asteroids

osiris rex
A NASA rendering of its asteroid probe. Image source: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

DNA and RNA contain five informational components, which we call nucleobases. Previously, scientists had discovered three of those five nucleobases on the remains of asteroids or meteorites. Since then, many have scoured other extraterrestrial samples in search of those missing two.

Finding life’s blueprint in the remains of meteorites has raised even more questions, though. There are already some beliefs that solar wind helped play a part in creating life on Earth. That’s because the wind would have sent important chemicals crashing into asteroids.

The belief now is that some of these asteroids with life’s blueprint could have smashed into each other. This would have created several meteoroids capable of carrying those components to Earth, and even to other planets. With this new data, the researchers say that they’ve not discovered the ancient organic molecules that could have been the building blocks of life on Earth.

Not proof that life came from outer space

planetary paradeImage source: Avantgarde / Adobe

Because DNA and RNA contain the instructions to operate every living thing on Earth, this discovery is both exciting and intriguing. Of course, it isn’t 100 percent proof that life’s blueprints came to Earth from meteorites. Those molecules could just have easily been delivered to Earth in some other way. It isn’t even proof that life came from outer space. Though, many believe it did in some form.

All this really does is keep adding pieces to the puzzle. Now that we know that these crucial components could have come from asteroids, we can add that to our models for how the origins of life began. It’s a huge step forward, and one that scientists hope we’ll continue to unravel the mysteries around.

Additionally, we have even more data to look forward to analyzing, as NASA’s ORSIRI-REx mission will return in the next year. This should give scientists a treasure trove of data to analyze from the asteroid Bennu. If we find life’s blueprints on that asteroid, it could provide even more proof of the part they played in seeding life on Earth.

Researchers published a study on these findings in Nature Communications on April 26, 2022.

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.