New Discovery May Prove Live On Earth Started From A Comet
The theory of panspermia posits that life on Earth may have been seeded by meteorites and comets carrying hardy spores of microorganisms. This possibility is what makes studying comets such an exciting area of research for scientists seeking to understand the origin of life on our planet and the evolution of the solar system.
Now, a new study, based on data gathered by instruments on board the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft — which is currently following the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — further bolsters the possibility that the building blocks of life on Earth may have come from outer space.
Researchers have detected the amino acid glycine, commonly found in proteins, and phosphorus, a key component of DNA and cell membranes, in the coma of the comet.
“This is the first unambiguous detection of glycine at a comet,” lead author Kathrin Altwegg, principal investigator of the ROSINA instrument that made the measurements, said in a statement. “At the same time, we also detected certain other organic molecules that can be precursors to glycine, hinting at the possible ways in which it may have formed.”