Most humans wonder about where we come from and why we are here.  Astrobiologists get the unique opportunity to think about and research this question for a living.  There are many interesting, and even science fiction like, hypotheses for the origins of life in the astrobiology community.  These hypotheses are difficult to test since we cannot go back in time to the beginning of Earth to watch life emerge.  Astrobiologists must instead make due by using models of the early Earth, lab experiments, and observing/studying life as we know it.  

 

            Early Earth’s climate was not a nice as it is today.  Bombardment by space rocks, the formation of our moon, and a young Sun emitting large amounts of UV radiation created a situation that most of life today would consider inhospitable (Schwartz and Chang). Once the Earth cooled off,  oceans began to form as its atmosphere evolved from a “solar nebula-derived gaseous envelope” (Schwartz and Chang) to something more familiar, but still inhospitable, to today’s life.  With all of this less than welcoming climate at the surface of Earth, some believe Terran life developed farther away at the bottom of its oceans close to hydrothermal vents in contrast to Earth’s surface in warm tidal pools.

           

            Hydrothermal vent’s discovery in 1979 (Corliss and Gordon) lead to some exciting science. There are weird, chemotrophic forms of life surrounding these vents.  At face-value, an ordinary person would not think that this discovery would be useful for astrobiologists and other scientists studying the origins of life.  Just a few years later in 1981 Corliss and his colleagues put out their hypothesis that life originated in these deep-sea vents.  Hydrothermal vents provide a chemical source of energy, instead of light like most surface life, such as humans and plants, rely on.  This chemical energy means that life did not need to get close to the unforgiving surface of a pre-biotic Earth.  Deep-ocean vents are also rich in clays and minerals that provide the building blocks for life’s essential molecules such as amino acids, used to make proteins, purines, pyrimidines, and more (Miller and Lazcano).

            There are still some issues with this hypothesis that scientists need to address and study more, just like all the other hypotheses we currently have about life’s origins.  Hydrothermal vent’s extreme heat makes it difficult for some of cell’s building blocks such as ribose, a sugar used to make RNA, to stay stable for long (Miller and Lazcano).  This presents an issue since some scientists currently believe that RNA was the fir information-carrying molecule in cells before DNA.  This issue along with others present an opportunity for scientists to ask more questions, dig deeper, learn more, and what they do best, science!

 

References

Corliss, J.B and Edmond, Von Herzen, Ballard, . . . Van Andel. Gordon. "Submarine Thermal Springs on the Galapagos Rift." Science (1979): 1073-1083.

Miller, Stanley L. and Antonio Lazcano. "Formation of the Building Blocks of Life." Life's Origin: The beginnings of biological evolution. Berkely and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002. 100-103.

Schwartz, Alan W. and Sherwood Chang. "From Big Bang to Primordial Planet." Life's Origin: The beginnings of biological evolution. Berley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002. 64-75. Book.

Thommes, Edward W. "Terrestrial planet formation." Pudritz, Ralph, Paul Higgs and Jonathan Stone. Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 41-61. Book.

 

 

Views: 26

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

Blog Posts

The 5th Mexican School of Astrobiology

Posted by Tardigrelda on June 24, 2019 at 1:00pm 0 Comments

I am really glad to invite everyone to the next Mexican School of Astrobiology (aka EMA) which is this August.

¡Anímate a participar en la 5ta Escuela Mexicana de…

Continue

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabli…

Posted by Wolf D. Geppert on February 24, 2019 at 1:33am 0 Comments

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabling Europe to emerge as a key player in Astrobiology and to…

Continue

AbSciCon session on life in high salt habitats

Posted by Jeff Bowman on December 14, 2018 at 8:12am 0 Comments

Abstract submissions are open for AbSciCon 2019!  You can check out the full selection of sessions here, however, I'd like to draw your attention toward the session Salty Goodness: Understanding life, biosignature…

Continue

vemala Network

Posted by Apit Supriatna on October 7, 2018 at 1:07am 0 Comments

Vemala.com merupakan situs yang membahas seputar gaya hidup, dengan berbagai macam informasi kesehatan, olahraga, Fitness, review, kecantikan, relationship,Lifestile, Tips kehamilan,Fashion dan lain sebagainya.

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Discussion Forum

Are We Unique in the Cosmos?

Started by Jacob Jordan Nov 22, 2017. 0 Replies

Astrobiology presents a unique framework to investigate both the distribution and probability of life in the universe and the future evolution of the human species as whole. Both of these aspects…Continue

An Important Problem Facing Astrobiology

Started by Brett Smaga Nov 22, 2017. 0 Replies

All scientific disciplines face their own unique set of challenges. As new discoveries are made, new questions arise that make us rethink what our goals are and what we are striving to obtain. Some…Continue

Guiding Our Path By Knowing Where We Came From

Started by Joe Holland Nov 21, 2017. 0 Replies

 “Astrobiology,” the word itself conjures images of analyzing aliens on some red-skied moon orbiting a gas giant. However, in the 21st century, astrobiology does not meet these sci-fi visions. In…Continue

Origins of Life Underground: A Case for Survival during Heavy Bombardment Earth

Started by Jacob Jordan Sep 11, 2017. 0 Replies

At the present time, I believe the most plausible hypothesis for the origin of life is that it originated within the Earth in environments where hyperthermophilic organisms could thrive (beneath the…Continue

© 2019   Blue Marble Space, a non-profit organization committed to science and science outreach.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service