Science & Technology

Amino acids found in Ryugu asteroid samples

Tokyo, June 6 (EFE).- More than 20 types of amino acids, considered one of the building blocks of life, have been detected in samples from the remote asteroid Ryugu that were dropped to Earth by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 in 2020.

These previously unknown details were provided by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), public broadcaster NHK reported Monday.

It is the first time that amino acids have been found in an asteroid in space, according to Japanese authorities.

According to the ministry, which described the finding as an important achievement, the eight teams that have been carrying out detailed analyses are compiling the results of their investigations and an official report is expected to be published in the future.

After a journey of six years and 5.2 billion kilometers, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft dropped a container of asteroid sand and gas into the South Australian desert in December, 2020.

Hayabusa2, launched by rocket in 2014, made contact with the surface of Ryugu twice in 2019 to collect the samples in a complex and historic operation.

The materials were sent to Earth in a capsule that was never exposed to outside air and had not been eroded by sunlight or cosmic rays.

The first analyses made a few days after the container landed on Earth, and carried out in a laboratory of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, confirmed that the gas originated from the remote asteroid. The analyses continued afterwards.

The material helps advance knowledge of the origin of the solar system, learn about the formation of Ryugu some 4.6 billion years ago, and better understand its affinity with carbonaceous chondrites, a type of meteorite believed to be able to be linked to the origin of life in the universe and the possible presence of organic life on other planets. EFE


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