NASA Astrobiology Finds Primordial Organic Matter in the Zag Meteorite

Xenolithic Clasts Meteorites

As the Solar System was forming, rock and dust coalesced to form primordial bodies around the Sun. Remnants of the earliest rocky bodies could be preserved today in xenolithic clasts found in meteorites. Credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech

A recent study supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Program provides new data on meteoritic materials that could have originated from primitive bodies in the Solar System. Researchers used a suite of analyses to study carbon-containing compounds in a xenolithic clast of the Zag (H5) meteorite, which was recovered in 1998 when it fell to Earth near Zag, Morocco. A xenolith is a rock fragment embedded in another rock, and it is thought that such fragments found meteorites could be material from bodies of rock and dust that existed very early-on in the Solar System’s history. As such, xenoliths could help astrobiologists understand the evolution of our system through time, and ultimately the conditions that led to the habitability of Earth. The results of the study indicate that the Zag clast is different from other known carbonaceous chondrite groups, and that it likely originated from the outer Solar System.

The study, “Primordial organic matter in the xenolithic clast in the Zag H chondrite: Possible relation to D/P asteroids,” was published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. This work was supported by the Emerging Worlds Program. The NASA Astrobiology Program provides resources for Emerging Worlds and other Research and Analysis programs within the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) that solicit proposals relevant to astrobiology research. This research is a critical part of NASA’s work to understand the Universe, advance human exploration, and inspire the next generation. As NASA’s Artemis program moves forward with human exploration of the Moon, the search for life on other worlds remains a top priority for the agency.

Reference: “Primordial organic matter in the xenolithic clast in the Zag H chondrite: Possible relation to D/P asteroids” by Yoko Kebukawa, Michael E. Zolensky, Motoo Ito, Nanako O. Ogawa, Yoshinori Takano, Naohiko Ohkouchi, Aiko Nakato, Hiroki Suga, Yasuo Takeichi, Yoshio Takahashi and Kensei Kobayashi, 19 December 21019, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2019.12.012

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