Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Precursors To Early Earth Life Found In Canadian Meteorite

a sample of early sol "snap frozen" on impact
Houston - Dec 17, 2002
In a study published today in the "International Journal of Astrobiology," researchers state that a meteorite that fell to Earth over northwestern Canada in January 2000 contains a previously unseen type of primitive organic material that was formed long before our own solar system came into being.

The Tagish Lake meteorite fell to Earth over the Yukon Territory of Canada on Jan. 18, 2000. Parts of the meteorite were collected and kept frozen in an unprecedented level of cleanliness to ensure that it was not contaminated by any terrestrial sources.

Through extensive testing using, in part, electron microscopes, the researchers found numerous hollow, bubble-like hydrocarbon globules in the meteorite.

They believe these organic globules, the first found in any natural sample, are very similar to those produced in laboratory simulations designed to recreate the initial conditions present when life first formed in the universe.

"While not of biological origin themselves, these globules would have served very well to protect and nurture primitive organisms on Earth," said Dr. Michael Zolensky, an author of the paper and a researcher in the Office of Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "They would have been ready-made homes for early life forms."

The type of meteorite in which the globules were found is also so fragile that it generally breaks up into dust during its entry into Earth's atmosphere, scattering its organic contents across a wide swath.

"If, as we suspect, this type of meteorite has been falling onto Earth throughout its entire history, then the Earth was provided with these hydrocarbon globules at the same time life was first forming here," Zolensky said. "We were exceedingly fortunate that this particular meteorite was so large that some pieces survived to be recovered on the ground."

Last year, researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., announced that they had made basically identical hydrocarbon globules in the laboratory from materials present in the early solar system and interstellar space.

"What we have now shown is that that these globules were in fact made naturally in the early solar system, and have been falling to Earth throughout time," Zolensky said.

The researchers believe the Tagish Lake meteorite came from the outer asteroid belt, toward Jupiter, and that similar organic materials may have been falling onto the moons of Jupiter, including Europa.

"It is interesting to speculate about the presence of these organics in the ocean we believe may be present under the ice cap of this moon," Zolensky said.

A team of five researchers collaborated on the two-year study.

The team was led by Keiko Nakamura of Kobe University in Japan, who was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Nakamura is now working at JSC under a postdoctoral grant from the U.S. National Research Council.

Co-authors of the study include Zolensky, who was funded by the NASA Cosmochemistry Program; Satoshi Tomita and Kazushige Tomeoka, both of Kobe University, who were funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, respectively; and Satoru Nakashima of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who was also funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Related Links
SpaceDaily
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Astronomers Find Life On Earth
Boston - Nov 01, 2002
Now that the discovery of extrasolar planets, or planets around distant stars, has become relatively routine, scientists are now tackling the next step: finding life-bearing worlds. To do this, observers must know what signs to look for in the feeble light from these faraway planets.

Canadian Meteorites May Be Oldest Ever Found
Calgary - Oct. 16, 2000
Researchers at The University of Western Ontario (Western) and the University of Calgary (U of C) -- working with colleagues from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom -- have found that a meteorite recovered in northern British Columbia may be one of the most primitive solar system materials ever examined.



Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only






Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.