A meteorite that struck California early last year contained traces of unexpected organic molecules, according to researchers at Arizona State University.
The findings actually come from fragments of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite, which landed on Earth after a very cool fireball in April 2012.
Initial analysis of the meteorite revealed that it was a rare carbonaceous chondrite containing “information about the early stages of the universe.” That alone would have been interesting enough, but scientists now say they’ve found something unexpected: oragnic molecules that they’ve never seen in a meteorite before.
This discovery may lend credence to the panspermia hypothesis and other theories, in which comets and meteors “deliver” the ingredients of life to planets. This may have contributed to the development of life on Earth itself.
The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “Processing of meteoritic organic materials as a possible analog of early molecular evolution in planetary environments.” You can check that out here.