Amino Acids From
Amino Acids – Brief Overview
All living things
contain amino acids.
Critical for life.
Do all the work of
running reactions in
Make up all proteins,
Old paradigm – Amino acids formed on
Amino acids form in liquid water on a parent
Amino acids in meteorites formed on an early
Solar System body.
Ames Research Center
simulate the formation of amino acids in deep
To accomplish this by ultraviolet photolysis of
Conducted lab experiments at
temperatures, pressures, and radiation
conditions of interstellar clouds.
Many steps taken to exclude
Ensured that reactions did not take place
prior to the experiment.
freezing mixtures of
to 15K, forming an
exposed to UV
Warmed under a
After this hydrolysis,
What Does this mean?
Amino acids can form in deep space
Amino acids in meteorites may have
originated before the solar system formed.
What does this mean? (cont.)
Earth may have been “seeded” with amino
acids from space, causing a “jump-start”.
Increases the odds of life evolving on
other places other than Earth.
Conclusions From the Team
"It was previously thought that the molecules that led to life could
only have originated on Earth, we have shown that they could have
come from space." - Louis Allamandola NASA Ames
"Of course, many of the amino acids in meteorites were made in
liquid water, but it now seems likely that at least some of the
smallest ones arose in space before the solar system formed." - Max
Bernstein SETI Institute
"I find these results exciting because they address not only life on
Earth, but its likelihood elsewhere," agreed Dr. Louis Allamandola of
"Amino acids are literally raining down out of the sky, and if that’s not
a big deal then I don’t know what is." - Max Bernstein SETI Institute