The researchers learned that when a comet impacts a planet, the ensuing shock wave produces molecules that make up amino acids.
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Researchers from the UK’s University of Kent, Imperial College London, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory discovered a “cosmic factory” that produces amino acids – the building blocks of life – when a rocky meteorite impacts a planet with an ice-covered surface, or when an icy comet impacts a rocky planet, according to a September 16 news release. The research findings appear in the latest issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.
The team of researchers hypothesized that this process is yet another piece to the puzzle of how life began on Earth between 4.5 and 3.8 billion years ago, when the surface experienced successive bombardments by comets and meteorites.