Media reported that scientists have found for the first time a complete, previously unknown hemolithin in meteorites. Scientists at Harvard University, PLEX and Bruker Scientific are known to have discovered the protein in a meteorite called Acfer 086, discovered in Algeria in 1990. It is characterized by iron and lithium and may play an important role in sowing seeds of life on a habitable planet similar to Earth.
(From: Cornell University)
Hemolithin is a very small protein consisting mainly of the amino acid glycine, with ends and atomic sons of iron, oxygen and lithium. But what surprised us the most was that we had never seen it on Earth before.
As a new example of the “cosmic building block theory of life”, other space meteorites similar to Acfer 086 that fell into Earth may have sowed seeds of life on other planets.
Previously, scientists have found large numbers of individual amino acids (the main componentof of proteins) in meteorites and comets, even amino acid precursors, sugars, organic matter, and certain shapes of molecules that are vital to life.
The atomic clusterated at the tip of the protein forms an iron oxide that is known to absorb photons and break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed, and interested friends can first go to arXiv to get a pre-printed copy (PDF).
It is not clear how hemoglobin is formed in space, but scientists predict that a single unit called glycine will form on the surface of the dust particles. Warm molecular clouds can then create the right conditions for these units, starting with the polymer chain and eventually forming proteins.
For its part, hematoprotein does not prove extraterrestrial life, but at least it provides us with some hints about how life on Earth and other similar planets originated.