Life On Earth May Be Extraterrestrial - InformationWeek
Government // Leadership
12:10 PM
4 Keys to Improving Security Threat Detection
Dec 15, 2016
In this webinar, Ixia will show how to combine the four keys to improving security threat detectio ...Read More>>

Life On Earth May Be Extraterrestrial

NASA discovery of amino acid on comet suggests ingredients for organic proteins came from outer space.

NASA said Monday that a comet scoured by its Stardust spacecraft was found to be carrying an amino acid that is an essential building block for organic life. It's the first time such an amino acid, glycine in this case, has been discovered on a comet.

"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," said James Elsila, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Stardust collected samples from the comet Wild 2 by flying through its debris trail in January of 2004. It took researchers two years just to develop techniques to accurately analyze the tiny samples. Officials said NASA's findings reinforce the view that Earth is not the only planet in the universe that supports organic life.

"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," said Carl Pilcher, director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute.

Organic life in any known form is comprised of proteins that are derived from varying combinations of 20 different amino acids. NASA's findings suggest comets can act like interstellar bees, disseminating life throughout the universe by distributing amino assets to planets like the insects spread pollen.

"We discovered that the Stardust-returned glycine has an extraterrestrial carbon isotope signature, indicating that it originated on the comet," said Elsila.

NASA presented its research results this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, DC.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll