Meteor impacts may have cooked up life on Earth

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Washington, November 6 (ANI): A new research by scientists has confirmed that the organic matter needed for the origin of life could have been delivered to Earth through meteoritic impacts early in Earth's history.

Studies have shown that most of the delivered organics would have decomposed through shock heating or aerodynamic interaction with the ambient atmosphere.

However, Seiji Sugita from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and Peter H. Schultz from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, US, suggest that some of the decomposed organics could have been revived through chemical reactions between the meteoritic matter and the ambient atmosphere during hypervelocity oblique impacts.

As a model for meteoritic impacts in the early atmosphere, the researchers conducted hypervelocity impact experiments in which polycarbonate projectiles impact copper targets in very oxidizing nitrogen- oxygen-argon mixtures, which provide difficult conditions for organic synthesis.

Despite the conservative conditions, they find that carbon from the projectile reacts efficiently with atmospheric nitrogen to produce cyanides.

Nitrogen is an important element in biomolecules, but is not abundant in meteorites.

The researchers noted that impact-driven cyanide synthesis might have contributed significantly to the basic chemical building blocks needed for the origin of life. (ANI)

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