(NaturalNews) NASA's Stardust satellite, the probe that collected samples of the comet Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt-2") on January 2, 2004, has uncovered one of the most important discoveries in modern space exploration: the building blocks of life. Glycine, the smallest of the 20 amino acids commonly found in proteins and one of the fundamental materials of life, has been found in the dense gas and dust surrounding the tail of the Wild 2 comet.
The Stardust collected particles from the comet's coma using a special spongy material called aerogel. The samples were then stored in a capsule that was parachuted to Utah on January 15, 2006. Since then, scientists from around the world have been analyzing the samples for any and all information using the world's most sophisticated instruments. "Based on the foil and aerogel results it is highly probable that the entire comet-exposed side of the Stardust sample collection grid is coated with glycine that formed in space," commented Dr. Daniel Glavin of NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center.
This profound discovery implies two startling probabilities. Firstly, if a component of protein can be found in local space, then it is possible that life on Earth started, received a boost, or was altered in some way by impacts from interstellar bodies such as comets.
"Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins, and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," said Dr. Jamie Elsila of NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Elsila is the lead author of a paper on this research accepted for publication in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science
. "Our discovery
supports the theory that some of life`s ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts." This idea was first proposed in the '60s when glycine and other amino acids were found in a number of meteorites. According to Dr. Elsila, the most famous one landed outside of Murchison, Australia in 1969.
The other probability that this discovery suggests is that the ingredients for life
, amino acids, are perhaps more widespread and ordinary in the cosmos than otherwise suspected. This presents the idea that maybe life is much more common in the universe.
"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," commented Dr. Carl Pilcher, Director of the NASA
Astrobiology Institute which co-funded the research.
About the author
Dave Gabriele, D.Ac, BA, is a registered acupuncturist, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and a health researcher helping people in and around the Greater Toronto Area. He is the founder of Life Balance Family Health Care (www.balanceyourlife.ca
), an organization committed to providing people with the information and guidance they need to make positive lifestyle changes. Dave has been a teacher of Chinese martial arts since 1997, including the arts of Taiji and Qigong.