Sutter’s Mill meteorite. Credit: GeoJack

A meteorite that struck California in 2012 contained an organic molecule never seen before in meteorites. As scientists set about analyzing a meteorite called Sutter Mill, they found an organic molecule essential for life to exist.

This molecule can form rudimentary enclosures to contain compounds that were critical for early life on Earth arise and for pre-biotic evolution to happen.


The researchers, therefore, speculate that meteorites could have been an important source of essential building blocks for life to arise on Earth. And that there are also more organic molecules readily available throughout the solar system than previously thought.

Since the meteors that strike Earth are mostly fragments derived from asteroids that orbit between Mars and Jupiter. These ingredients would also be found on this asteroid and therefore quite common within this area in the solar system.

The study lead author Sandra Pizzarello writes, “Their composition, therefore, has always been seen as an indication that the precursors to the evolution that led to the origins of life could have come from the extraterrestrial material of meteorites,”.


Pizzarello is a biochemist at the Arizona State University in Tempe. She and her colleges speculate that these meteorites could have contributed to a pre-biotic soup of organic molecules.

ASU scientists strike scientific gold with meteorite