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It seems like 2020 has a lot more up its sleeve as researchers have found potential building bricks of life in the special rainbow-coloured meteorite that landed in Costa Rica last year.
The small, soft piece of space rock that hit earth’s surface on April 23, 2019, is believed to have broken off from washing machine-sized clay fireball while landing. While meteorite landings are a common sight, these shards have been recognised to be special as the asteroid that spawned them was a soft remnant of the early solar system, made off the dust from the spinning nebula that would ultimately form our solar system, formed in even older stars.
The shards that were scattered between two villages, La Palmera and Aguas Zarcas, were found by the locals. The meteorites that rained down during the particular event — collectively called Aguas Zarcas — belong to a rare class called carbonaceous chondrites, formed in the wee hours of the solar system's emergence, packed with carbon. The space rock contains complex carbon compounds, likely including amino acids, which join to form proteins and DNA, along with other complex building blocks of life.
In 1969, a meteor that exploded over Murchison of Australia had shown similar features. Researchers already have evidence that the amino acids in this Aguas Zarcas fragment are not found anywhere on Earth. However, there is a possibility of contamination due to the way it landed in the Costa Rican rainforest.
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