Astronomers have been searching for signs of life beyond Earth for decades. Since the 1990s, thousands of exoplanets have been discovered, and the search for life continues. One option in this quest is to look at comets, which are believed to be good candidates for transporting life’s important molecules to Earth from elsewhere in the universe.
Researchers at Cantabrigian have found that certain types of comets could deliver the building blocks of life to the surface of a planet. However, they warn that if a comet is traveling too fast, it will destroy the molecules before they reach the planet’s atmosphere. The researchers also note that close-orbiting planets form “pea pod” communities that allow slow-moving comets to access their surfaces. Some comets and asteroids have been found to contain molecular foundations to life, including amino acids and vitamins.
Recent advances in understanding these molecules have shed light on how they might be used as raw materials for life. As scientists continue their search for signs of life beyond Earth, comets and other celestial bodies will likely remain important targets for study and exploration.