Life on Earth could have started from an Asteroid impact, resolving one of the central problems of the origin of life.
Above: An artist’s illustration depicts a massive asteroid impact on earth. Credit: NASA/Don Davis
When and how life arose on Earth?
According to scientists extraterrestrial impacts could contribute to the synthesis of the building blocks of the first life-giving molecules.
“Was life seeded on our planet from elsewhere by hitching a ride on comets or asteroids, or did it arise spontaneously in the presence of organic molecules?”
In a new study, a team of scientists, led by Svatopluk Civiš, a chemist at the Central European Institute of Technology in the Czech Republic, has announced a surprising discovery suggesting extraterrestrial impact as the source of biogenic molecules.
We simulated the high-energy synthesis of nucleobases from formamide during the impact of an extraterrestrial body. A high-power laser has been used to induce the dielectric breakdown of the plasma produced by the impact.
Likewise, the results might be relevant in the search of biogenic molecules in the universe. The work is therefore highly actual and interdisciplinary.
Raffaele Saladino, an expert in pre-life chemistry at Tuscia University, Italy, who was not involved in the new research, said:
“It’s an incredibly interesting concept. We normally think of objects like comets as potential carriers of these constituent pieces required for life—not something that’s helping synthesize them.”