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Extra-Terrestrial Mineral May Have Triggered Life on Earth

Update Date: Dec 17, 2015 10:16 PM EST
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There is an extra-terrestrial mineral that might disclose new clues about the origin of biological life on earth. Scientists looking closely at meteorites believe that some may have influenced our planet and affected its origins.

Earlier, they believed that the ancient meteorites came with iron-nickel phosphide mineral "schreibersite," which, after touching the earth's atmosphere, released phosphate that could have helped to develop the prebiotic molecules.

Now, the scientists studied schreibersite in order to understand the chemical's reaction with the "corrosive effects" of water. This mineral can offer the phosphate that would be valuable to the emergence of life.

"Up to ten percent of the Earth's crustal phosphate may have originated from schreibersite, so the mineral was abundant and readily available to engage in early chemical reactions," said Matthew Pasek, one of the researchers, in a news release. "This ready and abundant source of reactive phosphorus may have been an important part of the prebiotic Earth and possibly the planet Mars."

Hence, they first built an early earth model of organic-rich aqueous solution, within which the schreibersite might react and corrode. However, the model showed that there was a favourable reaction.

"A thorough exploration of the extent of phosphorylation of nucleosides (made of a base and a five carbon sugar) by schreibersite was necessary to evaluate its potential prebiotic importance," said Maheen Gull, one of the researchers. "All of our experiments indicated that a basic pH, rather than acidic pH, was required for the production of phosphorylated products. Although phosphorylation can take place using a variety of phosphate minerals in non-aqueous solution, prebiotic oxidation in water is more likely given the dominance of water across the solar system."

The study was published in Scientific Reports.

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