The existence of organic material in its composition does not necessarily mean that there is also life. We already talked about this in an article about the asteroid Bennu. There are several chemical reactions, geological processes and several other types of processes that form organic matter, after all, organic matter precedes life, and not the other way around. But still, a meteorite with organic material is exciting.
On January 16, 2018, a meteor explodes over a lake in the skies of the state of Michigan, in the United States. At the time, the meteor already stood out for the “fact that it passed over us and exploded near these seismic stations and infrared microphones, this is unusual and fortuitous. And that makes this event scientifically interesting, ”in the words of seismologist Jeroen Ritsema in a statement at the University of Michigan at the time of the fall.
But what animates now is another point.
Knowing the history of the solar system
A meteor is a space rock passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. Now it has touched the ground, so we classify it as a meteorite. Therefore, he no longer gives us the answers as before. Research is now on the meteorite. Analysis of the composition of meteorites helps us to understand much of the formation of the solar system, since as there is no geological or climatic activity, they are extremely pure.
Life formed on Earth more than 4 billion years ago. And since then, the planet Earth has changed a lot, either by the climate or by the geology. There are several dynamics that make today’s planet Earth very different. So looking only at the Earth gives us very limited results.
If an asteroid maintains a composition very similar to the composition of bodies at the beginning of the formation of the solar system, it would give us many interesting responses when it comes to the formation of life on Earth. Sometimes we forget that we are also part of the solar system. There is a dynamic between the different bodies, and looking outside the Earth is also looking at the Earth, just as looking here is also looking at space.
Scientists describe the fall, recovery and analysis of the meteorite’s composition in an article recently published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
Meteorite with organic material, but it goes beyond
“This meteorite is special because it fell into a frozen lake and was quickly recovered. It was very pure. We could see that the minerals were not much altered and later we found that it contained a rich stock of extraterrestrial organic compounds ”, explains researcher Philipp Heck, curator of the Field Museum. “These types of organic compounds were probably delivered to primitive Earth by meteorites and may have contributed to the ingredients of life.”
Scientists managed to recover it so well because they used the technology to their advantage. “The weather radar is used to detect hail and rain,” says Heck. But they thought of using it to look for the meteor’s tracks. “These pieces of meteorite fell in this size range and, therefore, the weather radar helped to show the position and speed of the meteorite,” he explains.
The meteorite fell right on the surface of Lake Strawberry, which luckily was frozen. The lake is located near the city of Hamburg, in the state of Michigan, in the United States (Americans love to copy European city names, laughs).
“When the meteorite arrived in Campo, I spent the entire weekend analyzing it, because I was very excited to find out what type of meteorite it was and what was in it,” explains Jennika Greer, one of the study’s authors. “With every meteorite that falls, there is a chance that there is something completely new and totally unexpected.”
It was a H4 chondrite meteorite, which represents only about 4% of the meteorites on Earth. So, it is quite rare. Soon we will see answers brought by the object.
The scientific study was published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science. With information from Live Science and Phys.org/Fiel Museum.