HOW ASTEROIDS HAVE PLAYED A PART IN KICKSTARTING LIFE ON EARTH
Astrophysicist Professor Tamara Davis explores one of the greatest scientific mysteries of all – how life began. While most asteroids never they hit the earth, burning up in the atmosphere, the meteorites they do leave are precious finds. One meteorite found in Australia – the Murchison meteorite – completely changed our understanding of asteroids. Along with minerals and elements, it contained complex organic compounds, including amino acids – the building blocks of life. The discovery led to an extraordinary experiment in New Zealand.
Among the primordial landscape of Rotorua’s volcanic pools, astrobiologists Luke Stellar and Anna Wang use compounds found in the Murchison meteorite to try and cook up what they think are chemical blueprints for living cells known as ‘protocels’. If successful, they may confirm something long suspected – that life may have come from space.