The asteroid Ryugu (“Dragon Palace” in Japanese) was discovered in 1999 and is located more than 300 million kilometers from Earth.
Various types of amino acids, the building blocks of life on Earth , were found in samples taken from an asteroid by a Japanese space probe in 2019, according to a study published Friday. Amino acids and other organic matter from the asteroid Ryugu “could provide clues about the origin of life on Earth”, according to this study from the University of Okayama (western Japan).
“The discovery of amino acids capable of forming proteins is important because Ryugu was not exposed to the Earth’s biosphere, unlike meteorites,” the study notes. Therefore, “its detection shows that at least some of these basic components of life on Earth could have been formed in space environments,” she adds.
The researchers identified 23 different types of amino acids in 5.4 grams of samples of black rock and dust collected from the asteroid by the Japanese Hayabusa-2 probe, whose capsule returned to Earth in late 2020 with its cargo after a six-year mission. years. The asteroid Ryugu (“Dragon Palace” in Japanese), discovered in 1999, is located more than 300 million kilometers from Earth and is less than 900 meters in diameter.
Scientists believe that some of the asteroid‘s material was created about five million years after the birth of our solar system and was not heated above 100 degrees Celsius. According to another study published Thursday in the US journal Science, the material collected at Ryugu has “a chemical composition that more closely resembles that of the sun’s photosphere” than that of meteorites.
The Ryugu samples “allow us to think that the amino acids were brought to Earth from space,” Kensei Kobayashi, an astrobiologist and professor emeritus at Yokohama National University, confirmed to AFP. Another theory is that amino acids were created in the Earth’s early atmosphere by lightning strikes. (AFP)