Hot on the heels of finding arsenic-loving life-forms, NASA astronomers have uncovered amino acids—the fundamental foundation for life—in a place where they shouldn't be.
The acids—precursors of proteins—have been unexpectedly found inside fragments of previously superheated meteorites that landed in northern Sudan in 2008, a new study says.
Amino acids have already been found in a variety of carbon-rich meteorites formed under relatively cool conditions. (See asteroid and comet pictures.)
But this is the first time the substances have been found in meteorites that had been naturally heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celsius). That extreme temperature which should have destroyed any hint of organic material inside, said study leader Daniel Glavin, an astrobiologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
"Previously, we thought the simplest way to make amino acids in an asteroid was at cooler temperatures in the presence of liquid water," Glavin said in a statement. "This meteorite suggests there's another way involving reactions in gases as a very hot asteroid cools down."
The discovery also "provides additional support for the theory that life's ingredients were delivered to the Earth by asteroids," he said
Read the entire article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/12/101220-asteroid-meteorite-life-space-science/