Asteroids are commonly known as being threatening because if it wiped out the dinosaurs, it could do the same to humankind. But researcher Nicholas Hud has a different point of view. He believes that asteroids can show us original molecules from our solar system, even helping scientists reconstruct the path of how life started on Earth.
Nicholas Hud is the Director of the NSF-NASA Center for Chemical Evolution at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and he strongly believes that there is enough evidence in molecules from asteroids: ‘We can look to the asteroids to help us understand what chemistry is possible in the universe’.
The molecules in asteroids and meteorites could show us ‘for how molecules in them could have helped give rise to life.’ He also adds that it’s important to catalog molecules from asteroids and meteorites to find compounds that haven’t been regarded ‘important for starting life’.
Scientists from NASA have analyzed compounds that were found in meteorites and asteroids for many years and all that work could show us even what was present when Earth was formed.
Countless Ways Of Forming Molecules of Life
Hud stated that life on Earth could have started with less evolved molecules that would become more sophisticated and more efficient in time, until the way they are now:
‘The overall structure can be very similar and would be easier to make, though it doesn’t have the ability to fold into as complex structures as modern proteins. There is a tradeoff between the simplicity of forming these molecules and how close these molecules are to those found in contemporary life.’
Billions of years ago, Earth was completely different, having islands instead of oceans and the sun producing less light. Hud said that the islands were ‘potential incubators for life, with molecules raining down from the atmosphere’. So, molecules evolved slowly and differently in other locations or conditions.
Hud said that ‘there are probably a lot more clues in the asteroids about what molecules were really there.’ Even though they cannot know what they should look for in the asteroids, they can learn all about the molecules they find in them and create different scenarios to find out if some of these molecules helped with starting life on Earth.