Tagish Lake Meteorites are shards of a giant and a very old meteorite that landed in Tagish lake in the year 2000 is one of the most valuable pieces of extraterrestrial objects we have. Its estimated age is 4.5 billion years and that is why it is a valuable record of fluid processes dating back to the dawn of our Solar System. This meteorite landed on a frozen lake and it was recovered and was stored in a frozen environment since then.
In a new study on these meteorites, researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum, McMaster University, and York University have used a technique called atom probe tomography (APT).
Using APT, the researchers zoomed in on tiny framboidal magnetite grains inside the Tagish Lake chondrite.
The research team has found that these fine structures would have required a sodium-rich, alkaline fluid environment to form like this, and since the Tagish Lake meteorite hasn’t come into contact with liquid water since it arrived on Earth, the findings could mean the fluid involved here dates back to the beginnings of the Solar System.
The research team also said that the sodium-rich and high-PH conditions of this ancient water-like fluid would have been favorable for the formation of amino acids, which, if their hypothesis is correct, suggests the fluid may have helped trigger the development of early life-forms on Earth when similar fluid-transporting space rocks interacted with our primordial planet billions of years ago.
Though we have some evidence, we are very far from properly explaining how life would have formed on Earth.
“Amino acids are essential building blocks of life on Earth, yet we still have a lot to learn about how they first formed in our Solar System,” explains meteorite researcher and Ph.D. student Beth Lymer from York University in the UK.
“The more variables that we can constrain, such as temperature and pH, allows us to better understand the synthesis and evolution of these very important molecules into what we now know as biotic life on Earth.“
Lee F. White, Evidence for sodium-rich alkaline water in the Tagish Lake parent body and implications for amino acid synthesis and racemization. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2003276117