Scientists have long known that certain amino acids which traverse the cosmos inside of comets are the building blocks for life. Now they believe those amino acids are capable of surviving a fiery planetary impact. Researchers recently recreated the conditions of a terrestrial comet strike using powerful laboratory ‘guns’ to simulate “the conditions that existed inside comets when these celestial objects hit Earth’s atmosphere at almost 25,000 miles per hour and crashed down upon the surface” billions of year ago.
What’s the Big Idea?
The amino acids not only survived the violent impact but the energy produced as a result caused them to form peptide bonds, which link amino acids together to create individual proteins. “Comets really would have been the ideal packages for delivering ingredients for the chemical evolution thought to have resulted in life,” said lead researcher Jennifer Blank. “We like the comet delivery scenario because it includes all of the ingredients for life—amino acids, water and energy.” The seeding of life on Earth may have occurred over many comet strikes.