Natalie Starkey revealed how the discovery showed comets and asteroids contain carbon molecules that may have provided the ingredients to start life on Earth. The scientist claimed these space rocks may one day deliver and harvest alien life to Earth from the depths of space. However, she warned this could only be made possible in the correct circumstances.
Dr Starkey was speaking as a guest on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk podcast last month.
Asked whether comets or asteroids could start life, she responded: “Definitely, so this has been quite a recent research finding that we have discovered during missions to comets.
“They discovered that there was actually glycine, which is an amino acid within the comet.
“So we know there are basically these complex carbon molecules within them and so there’s every chance that they have the right ingredients for life.
An asteroid could deliver alien life to Earth
Natalie Starkey sent a warning over asteroids
So there’s every chance that they have the right ingredients for life
“This is why we say we think Earth was bombarded by comets and asteroids from space.”
Dr Starkey went on to explain how the same theory over how life started, could repeat itself in the future.
She added: “So it’s plausible that we could have brought life and water to Earth because we know that these objects contain a lot of these ingredients.
“We know that asteroids contain hundreds of amino acids, so these objects in space, they’re very old, they’re very what we call primitive.
“They’re some of the earliest things that formed in the Solar System, but they contain all the ingredients that you need to basically build a planet.
Some theorise asteroids delievered the building blocks for life
“This is why I find them such fascinating objects because they just have everything we need.”
However, Dr Starkey warned the idea is still far from a reality.
She continued: “But the problem is there’s a bit of a leap going from just having the amino acids and the basic carbon compounds and the molecules to then getting life.
“That’s a massive leap.
“The problem is, we might have all these ingredients in space everywhere, in fact, they might be in every Solar System we care to look at.
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The Solar System is full of planets
“But it doesn’t mean that we’ve got life, because we need some very special conditions to let those ingredients become life.
“We have only observed life once and that is on Earth, but it doesn’t mean that in the hundreds of billions of galaxies that are out there, that there isn’t life somewhere else, we just haven’ found it yet.”
In 2035, there is a one-in-150,000 chance the asteroid Apophis 99942 could strike Earth.
However, Dr Tyson has previously warned it may not be too helpful.
The 60-year-old claimed it could plunge into the Pacific Ocean, sparking a tsunami.
Untapped value of asteroids
He said in 2008: “If it goes through the keyhole, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveating the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide.
That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.
“Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three-mile-high wall does what? It collapses.
“It falls back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean, caveating it again.
“This cycle takes about 50 seconds, you can calculate it.”
He then revealed the sobering prospects for North America in such a scenario.
Apophis could strike Earth in the future
He continued: “So there you are on the beaches of Malibu and a tsunami comes in.
“The first wave needs a supply of water to exist, so the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself.
“Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore.
“So what happens is, all the artificial stuff, all the houses, factories, they get churned into the force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean.