These are tiny specks of dust that tell us a lot about our origins: taken from an asteroid by a Japanese probe, and brought back to Earth for analysis. And it turned out to be more interesting than expected, because these dust grains contain amino acids, one of the building blocks of the chemistry of life on Earth.
Its name is Ryugu, it is a piece of rock that floats in space more than 300 million kilometers from Earth. A target, apparently not chosen at random by JAXA for its mission Hayabusa 2. The goal: to take a few beads and return them to the ground for analysis.
It’s done, and Ryugu turns out to be a better option than expected because the reported dust already teaches us that it’s one of the most ancestral asteroids in our solar system. It is a sample of the past, telling us about the conditions that prevailed then, 4.5 billion years ago.
Determine the source of these amino acids
Another surprise of the sample is that it contains amino acids, which are molecules used to make proteins that are used by living organisms. This isn’t the first time we’ve found it in space since Rosetta European Mission For example, he spotted it on Comet Chauri.
On the other hand, we still do not know how these amino acids appeared on the primitive Earth. Would they have come from the sky thanks to their collision with asteroids similar to Ryugu? The controversy has not been settled, but this hypothesis has gained a little more weight.
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