Research

NASA recreated ancient conditions in which the first life could arise

More than four billion years ago, Earth wasshowered with deadly ultraviolet rays, so scientists believe that the first life originated deep under water. What exactly was the cause of its birth is still unknown, but astrobiologists from NASA for several years trying to figure it out. Especially for this, they built aquariums that accurately simulate the conditions of the primary seas. Finally, they were able to create an organic reaction, which could be the first "spark of life."

It is believed that living organisms arose ongreat depth, nearby cracks formed during volcanic activity. Since there is no light at great depth and vital photosynthesis is impossible, the first creatures could count only on chemosynthesis. During this process, the first bacteria could feed on the sugar that arose during the reaction between the hydrogen sulfide from the vent and oxygen from seawater. Larger creatures could feed on these bacteria — in this way, gradually, a food chain could develop.

Substances that were part of the ancientdepths of the sea were identified during the study of fossils. Thus, laboratory tanks were filled with water, pyruvate, and ammonia — two substances that can form during hydrothermal release and are important for the formation of amino acids. All oxygen was pumped out of the water and iron hydroxide was added, which was extremely common in the early years of the earth. Also, the water was heated to 70 degrees Celsius - about the same temperature reigned near volcanic cracks.

Understanding how organic cells and minerals can produce a real cell is really important for understanding in which types of environments life can arise.

Astrobiologist Laurie Barge, Head of Research

By adding oxygen to the water, scientists were able to noticethe formation of the amino acid alanine and alpha hydrochloric acid lactate. The latter is able to unite on into complex organic molecules, and subsequently give rise to life.

It is believed that in this way life couldformed on the icy satellites of other planets, for example on Europe, Jupiter and Enceladus of Saturn. Volcanic cracks may lie beneath their frozen surface, with living alien organisms floating near them. According to Lori Barge, having understood the conditions necessary for the birth of life, they will be able to know more precisely on which particular planets to look for.

What do you think, on what planets should you look for life and why on them? Write your options in the comments, and you can always discuss the topic in our Telegram-chat.