A US team claims to have discovered the first extraterrestrial protein, which has been published on the preprint site arxiv.org, but still subject to rigorous peer review. The team, led by Malcolm McGeoch of Plex, Massachusetts, the so-called extraterrestrial protein comes from the 1990 meteorite Acfer 086, which landed in Algeria.
The researchers said the “extraterrestrial protein”, tentatively known as “hemolithin”, consists of glycine, hydroxyglysine, iron, oxygen, and lithium atoms, which enrich thorium. (Thorium is an isotope of hydrogen, with a neutron in its nucleus and a proton in its nucleus.) The nucleus of a hydrogen atom has protons, but no neutrons. )
In his paper, McGeoch and his colleagues write that this richeme of radon does not appear in amino acids that form on Earth.
Although proteins are an important part of cells, the paper does not see “extraterrestrial proteins” as evidence of form life.
To be clear, scientists have previously confirmed that complex chemical reactions occur beyond Earth. Large organic molecules, for example, circle Saturn’s giant Titan atmosphere, while amino acids have been found on comets.
“I’m not interested,” said Jeffrey Bada, emeritus professor of marine chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, in response to the study.