Earlier this month, NASA announced the discovery of bacteria living in arsenic in a California lake. Now they have uncovered ET amino-acids in meteorite fragments that landed in northern Sudan.
The meteorite was a fragment of a parent asteroid measuring 13-feet-wide (4m), and weighing 59-tons. Scientists were given the first opportunity to observe a celestial object before it entered our atmosphere in October 2008 after a collision about 15 million years ago sent the asteroid closer to Earth. During expeditions in the Sudanese desert, scientists later recovered nearly 600 meteorite fragments from the meteor shower.
Just a few weeks ago, the bacteria living in arsenic finding presented by NASA, was preceded by media speculation about the possibility that the space agency would announce that it had found life in outer space.
Amino-acids have been found in carbon-rich meteorites before but this is the first time the acid substances have been found in a meteorite as hot as 2,000 Fahrenheit (1,100c). This naturally heated hot rock should have obliterated any form of organic material, reports National Geographic
Daniel Glavin, an astro-biologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland said, “Previously, we thought the simplest way to make amino acids in an asteroid was at cooler temperatures in the presence of liquid water, this meteorite suggests there's another way involving reactions in gases as a very hot asteroid cools down."
Mr Glavin also comments that the discovery - “provides additional support for the theory that life's ingredients were delivered to the Earth by asteroids." Finding this evidence is a “big deal” for the scientists – as they can now “learn about the chemistry that took place in space prior to the origin of life on Earth.”