On Monday, a government official said samples from the Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2 contained more than 20 types of amino acids, which were brought to Earth from an asteroid in late 2020, indicating the presence of compounds for the first time. On asteroids in space.
The discovery could lead to an understanding of the origin of life, along with amino acids needed by all living things to make proteins, the Department of Education said.
In December 2020, a capsule led by Hayabusa 2 on a six-year mission carried more than 5.4 grams of surface material to Earth from the asteroid Ryugu at a distance of more than 300 million kilometers.
File image of the asteroid Ryugu captured by Hayabusa 2 in November 2019 (Photo courtesy JAXA) (Kyodo)
The purpose of the Ryugu spacecraft is to unravel the mystery of the origin and life of the solar system. Previous analysis of samples showed the presence of water and organic matter.
Research institutes across the country, including the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the University of Tokyo and the University of Hiroshima, began a full investigation of the sample in 2021.
Although it is not known how amino acids arrived on ancient Earth, one theory is that they came from meteorites, with amino acids found in meteorites found on Earth. But it is also likely to stabilize on the ground.
Meteors that hit the Earth burn up when they hit the atmosphere and are quickly contaminated by terrestrial microorganisms.
Hayabusa2 collects groundwater that is not affected by sunlight or cosmic rays and carries it to Earth without exposure to outside air.
Kensei Kobayashi, a professor of astrobiology at Yokohama National University, said that the unprecedented discovery of a variety of amino acids in the supernatural body could show the existence of life on Earth.
The capsule used to send asteroid samples to Earth from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 space probe is on display at the Sagamihara City Museum, Kanagawa Prefecture, March 12, 2021 (Kyodo).
He said: “Proving the presence of amino acids in the Earth’s interior from asteroids increases the chances of compounds reaching Earth from space.”
This means that amino acids can be found on other planets and on natural satellites, Kobaya added, suggesting that “life may have originated in more places in the universe than previously thought.”
Hayabusa2 left Earth in 2014 and reached a stationary position on Ryugu in June 2018 after traveling 3.2 billion kilometers in elliptical orbit around the Sun for more than three years.
The probe landed on the asteroid twice the following year and collected the first asteroid surface samples.
JAXA announced a “big discovery” about asteroids next spring