A fireball that fell to Earth in 2018 contains “pristine extraterrestrial organic compounds” that could help tell us how life formed, scientists say.
The meteor arrived on Earth in January 2018, as a streaking fireball visible across the sky of the US Midwest. Scientists were able to track it using weather radar, and hunters picked the meteorite up from the ground before its chemical makeup was changed by exposure to liquid water.
Now researchers say the material they recovered offers them the ability to explore such rocks as they might appear when they are still in space, but using the equipment they have down on Earth.
They describe their early findings in a new paper published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
“This meteorite is special because it fell onto a frozen lake and was recovered quickly. It was very pristine. We could see the minerals weren’t much altered and later found that it contained a rich inventory of extraterrestrial organic compounds,” says Philipp Heck, a curator at the Field Museum, associate professor at the University of Chicago, and lead author of the new paper.
Read more: Independent