A new study conducted by NASA could show how the ingredients of life might have formed billions of years ago. And in doing so, they hope to find the same conditions present in other worlds in the universe that could have given birth to life and consequently, we might get a clue as to where we can find extraterrestrial life within and beyond our galaxy.
Astrobiologist Laurie Barge and her team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working to recognize life on other planets by studying the origins of life here on Earth. Their research focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.
To re-create hydrothermal vents in the lab, the team made their own miniature seafloors by filling beakers with mixtures that mimic Earth’s primordial ocean. These lab-based oceans act as nurseries for amino acids, organic compounds that are essential for life as we know it. Like Lego blocks, amino acids build on one another to form proteins, which make up all living things.
(Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)