Sugary Meteorites, clues about the origin of life

A team of scientists has detected sugars in meteorites, an important compound for biologically, which supports a certain hypothesis about the origin of life

Among the hypotheses that are considered on the origin of life there is one that counts for it with the presence of sugars in meteorites as propitiators of this process. The compounds that these rocks brought from outside the Earth would have contributed significantly to the creation of the first living beings.

The formation of a breeding ground conducive to life could not be understood without meteorites, according to this hypothesis. And now the discoveries of an international team of researchers support this thesis. They have found some sugars in meteorites that are of great biological importance.

The team has observed that in the NWA 801 and Murchinson meteorites there was ribose, arabinose and xylose. Sugars are essential compounds to unravel the origin of life. Ribose is key to the formation of ribonucleic acid (RND), a molecule that serves to copy genetic instructions from DNA and send them to ribosomes.

Previously, other essential components for meteorite life, such as amino acids, were present in proteins. But so far no sugars had been discovered in meteorites. This is the first time that there is evidence that ribose exists in space and that sugars came to Earth from other points in the universe.

Azúcares en meteoritos

This hypothesis points out that the chemical reactions that take place in asteroids – which will later become meteorites – can form some of the essential ingredients for life. This also confirms that in space there are some of the basic components for the formation of life.

Meteorites as a source of knowledge
The study of meteorites can bring valuable insights. These pieces of matter, coming from asteroids, have been examined in order to know their small magnets, whose magnetic fields would have the key to how the solar system formed. But it is also that these bodies have to be taken into account when studying samples from Mars or the Moon. And is that some compounds found on these planets could be attributable to the fall of meteorites, instead of being “native.”

Meteorites are also a source of other surprises. In one found in Australia in the 50s a new mineral has been discovered, which they have nicknamed Edscottite. If we talk about asteroids, rocky celestial bodies that can become meteorites if they hit Earth, there are also very interesting ones. About 16 Psyche, 200 kilometers in diameter and made up of precious metals.

Images: Hans, WikiImages

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