Asteroid discovery suggests life's ingredients came from space

25th March 2023 YouTube Twitter LinkedIn Blogger

Ryugu is a small near-Earth asteroid that was explored by the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The spacecraft arrived at Ryugu in June 2018 and spent a year and a half studying it before returning samples to Earth in December 2020. Ryugu is a C-type asteroid, which means it is rich in carbon and likely contains organic molecules. The study of Ryugu is expected to provide important insights into the early solar system and the origins of life on Earth. 

Scientists have discovered two organic compounds, uracil and niacin, essential for living organisms, in samples taken from the asteroid Ryugu. The discovery was made by the Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft during its mission to Ryugu in 2019. The findings support the theory that some crucial ingredients for life on Earth arrived on the planet via rocks from space billions of years ago. Uracil is a chemical building block of RNA, which carries instructions for building and operating living organisms, while niacin is vital for metabolism. 

The researchers suggest that these organic compounds on Ryugu may have formed due to chemical reactions caused by starlight in icy materials in interstellar space. (source Reuters)