Icy Particles of Space May Have Been Ingredients for Life on Earth
In an effort to better understand how life started on Earth, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are cooking up icy concoctions of organisms (carbon-bearing molecules) then zapping them with lasers. The JPL crew’s experiments also provide the first direct look at the organic chemistry that takes place in the chilly regions of our solar system, and even chillier reaches between stars. Scientists theorize that the basic ingredients of life began their journey to Earth on icy particles from these frigid regions of space. These icy organisms would have found their way into comets and asteroids, and have been carried around the solar system, some making their way to Earth, administering a dose of “prebiotic” ingredients to jump-start life on the third rock from the sun.
While the researchers do not have a clear answer on how icy organisms become slime molds, they say the findings help explain how the process works. Published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the study involved lab experiments to show that organic matter can begin the processing it needs to become prebiotic while still frozen in ice.