Costa Rica meteorite essential elements for life

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On April 23, 2019, in Costa Rica, a colorful meteorite was discovered, which has since been analyzed by experts. The original rock fragmented before reaching the ground, and residents found its pieces spread over two villages, La Palmera and Aguas Zarcas. Their main differential so far is that they belong to a rare class of carbonaceous chondrites, originating, it is supposed, in the first hours of life of the Solar System.

However, scientists have revealed that there is something else: one of the samples contains complex carbon compounds, and the presence of amino acids – which come together to form proteins, DNA and perhaps other building blocks necessary for the construction of life – is not ruled out.

Unlike other specimens, this one remained intact, and its only changes occurred due to the action of sunlight. This would have stimulated the creation of chemical compounds.

An example was another meteor that exploded in 1969 over Murchison, Australia, which had similar characteristics. His amino acids, commented Joshua Sokol to Science magazine, helped to spread the idea that we came from space. The Aguas Zarcas fragment, added the journalist, corroborates the hypothesis.

Technological advancements

According to Sokol, the studies related to the specimen have not been completed, but researchers are excited about the possibility of using advanced techniques available today. The expectation is that proteins, in addition to amino acids, will be found, which would be “quite a step” to understand how life came about.

Even if such substances were present in the Murchison meteor, decades passed, and the Earth’s atmosphere would have destroyed them without the proper technology of analysis. Still, if these elements are found now, it is very likely that the oldest visitor would also carry them.

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Unfortunately, there is a possibility that it has been contaminated by the environment in which it landed, the Costa Rican rainforest. Anyway, news can be on the way without any interference, with missions dedicated to collecting rocks in their “natural environment”.


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