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10 Aug, 2022
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Hayabusa2 mission

For The First Time, Scientists Found Traces Of Life Outside Earth!

For the first time in the history of mankind, scientists have discovered 20 amino acids from the samples returned from an asteroidThe Japanese scientists launched the asteroid mission to find life traces outside the Earth. Their findings found traces of amino acids from an asteroid flying in space.

During the identification, scientists identified 20 amino acids in the samples returned from the asteroid Ryugu by the Hayabusa2 mission. The discovery of the main constituents of life confirms the scientific claims, which state that asteroids contain traces of carbon and other organic matters. With this discovery, the Japanese space agency, Jaxa, hopes to find clues pertaining to the distribution of matter in the solar system.

What Are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are molecules which combines to form proteins and cells in the body. Amino acids are necessary for the overall growth of living beings, as these influence the breakdown of food, muscle growth, tissue repairing, and functioning of other body activities. Amino acids are also a good source of energy.

Early Detection

Prior to this finding, the traces of amino acids were found in asteroids which fell on Earth. However, these traces were not good from the perspective of research studies, as they get lost after entering the Earth’s surface.

Note: The object’s burnout is due to the resistance that Earth’s atmosphere offers to objects entering it. The presence of molecular gases in the atmosphere increases the temperature of objects, due to which they appear shiny and lose their mass before striking the surface. 

The recent findings from an asteroid mission confirm the presence of organic materials in the asteroids. According to scientists, the presence of amino acids is an important aspect of defining the origin of life in the solar system.

The Ryugu material is the most primitive material in the solar system we have ever studied. Ruygu is a CI chondrite asteroid, a type of stony carbon-rich asteroid with a chemical composition that is the most similar to that of the sun. These asteroids, rich in water and organic material, are a possible source of the seeds of life delivered to the nascent Earth billions of years ago, said Hisayoshi Yurimoto, a Geoscience professor at Hokkaido University, in his recent interview.

Current Findings

Asteroids are celestial bodies which revolves around the sun. These bodies are smaller than planets and are among the oldest objects in the solar systems. Due to these characteristics, scientists assume that the study of celestial bodies can better describe the formation and evolution of the Earth. To make things clear, Japanese scientists launched the Hayabusa2 mission.

The mission was initiated in 2014. Despite the extremely rocky surface, it touched down on Ryugu twice after its first launch. After landing on the Ryugu surface, the mission successfully collected the data and samples during the first 1.5 years. During its operation in February 2019, it collected dust samples. Whereas, in July, it collected underground samples from asteroids for the first time. During that period, it collected samples by landing in a crater, which was created after blasting the asteroid’s surface.

Future Course

After collecting samples from the asteroid, the spacecraft started its return journey. After reaching the Earth’s surface, it dropped the capsule containing samples in December 2020. However, that event didn’t conclude the mission, as the spacecraft returned on the next asteroid mission. This time the task is to reach a distant small asteroid called 1998KY26.

As per scientific calculations, this exploration will take around ten years to accomplish. Till then, scientists will focus on other aspects of their findings.

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