By Mike Wall
Life may have arisen in our solar system before Earth even finished forming.
Planetesimals, the rocky building blocks of planets, likely had all the ingredients necessary for life as we know it way back at the dawn of the solar system, said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University (ASU).
And clement conditions may have persisted inside some planetesimals for tens of millions of years — perhaps long enough for life to emerge, said Elkins-Tanton, the director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and the principal investigator of NASA’s upcoming mission to the odd metallic asteroid Psyche.
Some planetesimals survived into and beyond the planet-forming period, raising the possibility that one of these primitive bodies may have seeded Earth with life, she added.
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