It turns out that comets have been responsible for spreading some of the key ingredients for life throughout the solar system. The European Space Agency has announced that its Rosetta probe has detected some of these building blocks of life within the dust and gas that surrounds Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Scientists suggest this is the process that could have led to such chemical building blocks being delivered to a newly-formed Earth long ago.
The ESA says among the key organic compounds that Rosetta discovered are phosphorus, which is a component of DNA, and the amino acid glycine, which is used to make proteins. This suggests that comets and asteroids that made contact with our planet as it formed may have resulted in an increase of life-related compounds.
Glycine was previously discovered on another comet, Wild 2, back in 2006, but it was believed the samples suffered from contamination when landing on Earth, creating problems with their scientific analysis. But this new discovery is “the first unambiguous detection of glycine at a comet,” says a new research paper published in Science Advances.
“Having found glycine in more than one comet shows that neither Wild 2 nor 67P are exceptions,” said lead researcher Kathrin Altwegg, adding that Rosetta’s discovery backs up the theory that amino acids are commonly found “in regions of the universe where stars and planets have formed.”
SOURCE European Space Agency