Early life on Earth fed on smoggy haze

Posted on Thursday, November 09 2006 @ 10:29 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
A few billion years ago when Earth was still very young, a thick smoggy haze shrouded our planet. Last year when scientists send the Huygens space probe to Titan a similar haze prevented them from seeing the surface of the moon.

Scientists now tried to simulate a haze like the one on Titan and discovered Earth's early haze could have provided abundant nourishment for early live forms that emerged on our planet.
The nutrient chemicals might even have been the stuff from which the earliest forms of life emerged on Earth, the scientists speculated.

Instruments on the Huygens probe that descended on Titan from the spacecraft Cassini showed astronomers just what chemicals composed the moon's atmosphere as the probe penetrated miles of nitrogen and methane. It is the same chemical haze that covered the early Earth.

So the scientists at the universities of Colorado and Arizona and NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View used a brilliant ultraviolet light to simulate the sun in the laboratory and blasted an artificial haze made of nitrogen and methane, plus carbon dioxide that they believe might have risen from the early Earth's surface, to see what might be produced.
There's even speculation that these organic chemicals might have been the source for the origin of life itself. More details at SF Gate.




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