Water and Ice: The Building Blocks of Mankind?
Scientists believe that water and organic molecules join in the coldest regions of space in order to initiate the necessary chemical reactions for organic elements to evolve into prebiotic cells (molecules that initiate life). Ice and organic components may have landed in Earth by comets and asteroids. They may have played an important part on life as we now know it.
Study could reveal how life began on Earth
Investigators from the Jet Propulsion Lab in NASA are trying to get a better understanding of this process. They are currently interested on discovering the exact process of how life started on Earth. On some of the experiments, the team of scientists shot laser rays over frozen carbon molecules. The lead scientist, Murthy Gudipati, explained by e-mail that on a star’s cycle of formation, evolution and death, there are two key components that pave the way to life as we know it: water and organic matter. He adds that these two components evolve intimately with energy from a third source (radiation), in each phase of the cycle. This process may happen even in the coldest regions of the universe.
Organic Elements in Inorganic Matter in Space
Gudipati and his team are currently studying polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also known as PAHs. On earth, you may find PAHs as air pollutants that origin from cars, factories, or any place where the process of combustion takes place. In space they are found on comets and asteroids that are orbit around stars. On a recent NASA press conference, Gudipati mentioned that they were really surprised to find organic chemistry inside ice particles. He added that his team experimented on the lowest temperatures their NASA lab could provide. The temperatures Gudipati’s team experiments with, are reportedly around 230 below Celsius; just enough to imitate the cold temperatures found on space. The team then proceeds to hit the organic particles (the PAHs) with a laser ray, in order to register the chemical reactions that occur. The study revealed that it is possible for organic material, even while being frozen, to initiate reactions in order to become prebiotic. The PAHs incorporate hydrogen atoms in their molecular structures and lost their circular bodies; in other words, they became organic molecules of a higher complexity. These kinds of reactions usually are the predecessors of proteins required to form DNA. However, there are still parts of the process that are yet to be discovered, such as when do these particles go from being ice and organic molecules to life forms.
Anil Gupta is our resident space geek. When he’s not bust shooting rockets into space, he spends his time here at www.VirtualPersonalAssistants.org making customers happy.Anil’s work and life ethic can be summarized in one phrase. “We come in Peace”