A government official said Monday that samples returned to Earth by Japan’s Hayabusa2 space mission from an asteroid in late 2020 included more than 20 different types of Amino Acids, demonstrating for the first time that organic molecules exist on asteroids in space. The discovery might provide clues to understanding the origins of life, according to the education ministry, because Amino Acids are required for all living organisms to form proteins.
Hayabusa2 delivered more than 5.4 grams of surface material to Earth from the Ryugu asteroid, which is located over 300 million kilometers away, in December 2020, after a six-year mission.Ryugu’s mission was to uncover the secrets of the solar system’s and life’s origins. The presence of water and organic debris had been suspected based on previous analyses of the samples.
When meteors collide with the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up and get polluted with terrestrial bacteria.Hayabusa2 was revolutionary in that it retrieved subterranean elements that had not been weathered by sunlight or cosmic rays and transported them to Earth without being exposed to the atmosphere.