Carbonaceous Chondrite Rains Down In Costa Rica Part 2
The Aguas Zarcas meteorite was classified as a CM2 Carbonaceous chondrite. Classification is determined by petrology and geochemistry. Petrology is more of a basic classification that some, with many years of experience, can identify a particular class that the meteorite may belong to. This method is more observational, what the interior of the meteorite looks like. Geochemistry requires sophisticated scientific equipment such as a Mass Spectrometry laser. Mass Spectrometry identifies the composition of the meteorite. Aguas Zarcas is a CM2, the CM represents the composition of the meteorite and the number represents the degree of alteration that the space rock has undergone during its time in the depths of space. A 1 or 2 indicates aqueous transformations, meaning that the meteoroid was altered or affected by water. A 3 represents a meteorite unaltered by aqueous or thermal processes, essentially the meteorite is pristine and has not been changed since its formation 4.6 billion years ago. Numbers from 4 through 6 are thermal transformations, the object has undergone a heating event that has transformed the rock. There are some meteorites that are a 7 and some possible 8 categories in terms of thermal processes. A CM2 classification tells us that the Aguas Zarcas contains water. But water is not the only special characteristic of this meteorite, of all CM2 meteorites. These space rocks also hold organic compounds, hydrocarbons, and amino acids. They hold the ingredients necessary for life to evolve.
Scientists are still searching for the answer to the origins of life on Earth. There are many theories and right now any one of them could be correct. We do know one fact, that meteorites have been found to contain water, sugars, salts, and amino acids. Meteorites delivered the ingredients necessary for life to evolve. Carbonaceous chondrites, especially CM2 meteorites, deliver the most organic matter of any other class of meteorites. The Murchison meteorite has been studied for the last 51 years. Murchison is another witness fall CM2 and its timing was incredibly perfect. NASA had just finished preparing a new method of preservation to store the moon rocks that were being returned to Earth by the Apollo astronauts. Murchison has been studied for the last 50 years and was recently found to contain the most organic compounds in any meteorite in history, about 50,000 organic compounds in one sample. Scientists speculate that this single meteorite could contain millions of possible organic compounds. Aguas Zarcas may be very similar, only further analysis will reveal the truth. These space rocks are exceedingly rare, there are only 112 officially classified CM2 meteorites and only 18 of those are witnessed falls. They are once in a lifetime, especially if they are seen to have fallen, and for us they may have been a once in a lifetime for life itself.