A number of NASA researchers have recently done research by trying to create conditions that were thought to have existed when early life formed on Earth. According to this study, early life on earth formed around 4 billion years ago at the bottom of the ocean.
Reporting on Digital Trends (28/2), this research is expected to provide insight into the development of life on earth, including elsewhere in the universe.
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In this study, NASA researchers attempted to reconstruct the hydrothermal hole that is usually located on the seabed, close to cracks in the ocean floor. This hole releases liquid that has been heated in the earth's crust.
Moreover, this liquid will interact with seawater for amino acids in the nursery. Keep in mind that amino acids are an important element in the process of forming early life on earth. To make this artificial hydrothermal hole, NASA researchers used a beaker with a mixture of the same chemicals commonly found in the oceans. These elements include water, minerals, pyruvate and ammonia.
The next step, simulating the ocean is heated to 70 degrees Celsius to make it more similar to the original state. Not to mention, the oxygen content in water has been reduced to a certain level. The goal is to create conditions that were very close to the conditions on Earth 4 billion years ago.
One of the abundant minerals at that time were iron hydroxide compounds. This compound is formed when iron (from salt) sulfate reacts with hydroxide ions to form new compounds. When these compounds react with oxygen, amino acids will be formed.
This finding encourages new hypotheses in NASA researchers. They assume that similar reactions can occur on other planets, so that it does not exclude the possibility of life, even in the simplest form. There are at least two candidates who have the environment as the initial conditions on earth, namely Europe, the moon of Jupiter and the moon of Saturn Enceladus.
"We have no real evidence about life elsewhere, but understanding the conditions needed for early life can help reduce the places that we think can support life," said Laurie Barge, head of research.