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Liquid water and other organic compounds essential for life have been discovered on ancient meteorites that fell to Earth almost 20 years ago.
Experts examined crystals found on Zag and Monahans, two 4.5 billion-year-old rocks from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Earth - Minerals - Thanks - Advances - Technology
Despite landing on Earth in 1998, the minerals have only now been successfully analysed thanks to advances in technology.
The new study supports previous findings by Nasa's Dawn spacecraft, which suggest that the building blocks of life may be present on neighbouring asteroids.
Finding - Team - Researchers - Scientists - Open
The finding was made by an international team of researchers, which included scientists from the Open University (OU) in the UK and Nasa's Johnson Space Centre in Texas.
Technology available when the ancient space rocks crash landed on the planet two decades ago was not sensitive enough to reveal the secrets they held.
Experts - Mass - Spectrometers - Molecules - Size
Experts used mass spectrometers, which detect different molecules based on their size, and beams of electrically charged particles called ions to study the chemical composition of the organic materials.
Amino acids, hydrocarbons and liquid water were all found within the salt and potassium containing crystals, known as halite or rock salt and sylvite.
Author - Dr - Queenie - Chan - Researcher
Lead author Dr Queenie Chan, a postdoctoral researcher at OU, said: 'We collected the tiny salt crystals from the meteorites and dissolved them in water so that we could extract the amino acids and separate any organic compounds to analyse them.
'We conducted our experiments in one of the cleanest laboratories in the world at the Nasa Johnson Space Centre, which avoided any contamination from things such as dust in the air.'
Amino - Acids - Basis
Amino acids form the basis...
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