Meteor

A stunning Michigan meteorite reveals a secret of the galaxy

A meteorite landed in Michigan and brought with it intriguing molecules from space.

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Scientists have often wondered whether small rocks from space delivered to our planet the chemical ingredients for life.

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We know that Earth was continuously pummeled by asteroids and comets in its youth.

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And scientists have found molecules like sugars and amino acids on asteroids and comets.

Now, a bright new meteorite has strengthened this hypothesis.

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In January 2018, a small meteorite crashed into the frozen surface of Strawberry Lake in Michigan.Field Museum

Usually, when a meteorite lands on Earth’s surface, it’s immediately covered in dirt — and with that dirt, microbes.

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So it’s hard for scientists to tease apart what the meteorite brought with it and what it collected as it slammed into Earth’s surface.

But the January 2018 meteorite is special. It landed in ice, so the meteorite was relatively unaltered when it was found.

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Scientists could essentially treat it like a “pristine” meteoritic sample — akin to the sample that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will bring home from the asteroid Bennu in 2023.

Researchers chemically analyzed the meteorite and found it packed full of complex organic molecules.

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The findings aren’t proof that space rocks seeded Earth with the ingredients for life, but it is strong evidence for the theory.

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Heading into winter, scientists are prepared to collect any meteorite that might again find its way into ice.

Read more space stories here.

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