In December 2020, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 brought back samples from Ryugu, an asteroid located about 300 million kilometers from Earth. After carrying out a thorough analysis, the researchers have now discovered more than 20 amino acid samples in the pieces of the asteroid.
Amino acids are considered the building blocks of life. Finding them in asteroid particles brings scientists one step closer to understanding the origin of life.
There are many theories about the origin of life on Earth. One theory suggests that all life on the planet was wiped out this time around during the primordial years when Earth got too hot. He claims that life was brought back to Earth by asteroids such as Ryugu that traveled from space. The discovery of amino acid samples on an asteroid suggests that these celestial bodies supported life on their surface. The asteroid Ryugu is thought to contain samples dating back to 4.6 billion years ago. It was the time of the creation of the solar system.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will then collaborate with NASA on a mission called the OSIRIS-Rex probe. The probe, like Hayabusa2, will collect samples from asteroid Bennu and is expected to land next year.
The Hayabusa2 collected 5.4 grams of samples during two sample hits on asteroid Ryugu. Samples collected in 2018 and 2019 were brought back to Earth in 2020. According to scientists, the samples from Ryugu were “the most primitive material in the solar system”, which had never been studied.
Upon close analysis, the samples from Ryugu showed traces of chemical composition similar to material found in the early solar system. It contained more carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen components than any other carbonaceous chondrite asteroid.
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