According to a recent paper published in the Journal Science on February 24, samples brought back from the Ryugu asteroid by Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft have been found to contain a range of organic molecules, including 20 types of amino acids.
Led by Professor Hiroshi Naraoka of Kyushu University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, a team comprising Japanese, U.S and European scientists analyzed the Ryugu samples to identify 20 kinds of amino acids among about 20,000 kinds of organic molecules. Five of the identified amino acids are raw materials for life-sustaining proteins.
Organic molecules are a wide range of compounds containing the element carbon coupled with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and other atoms. They are the building blocks of all forms of life here on Earth.
Scientists said in the paper, it is possible that such diverse organic matter was brought to the early Earth via asteroids like Ryugu, leading to the emergence of life.