Astronomers look inside meteorites and find the sugars needed for life – Astronomy Magazine

Life from Space

Scientists want to understand how life arose on Earth. To do that, they must first unravel how organic molecules form and interact in environments without living things. Geologic activity has erased records of much of the chemistry that happened pre-life on Earth. But meteorites -- pieces of primitive solar system rocks that have fallen to Earth -- preserve chemical records of what the solar system was like in our planet's early days.

We rely on meteorites to tell this story, said Daniel Glavin, an astrobiologist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center and an author of the new study. Theyre basically frozen time capsules.

Scientists studying meteorites have already found molecules like amino acids and nucleobases, which are necessary for life. But they'd never seen ribose. This sugar makes up the backbone of RNA, a type of molecule responsible for carrying genetic messages in our cells. Furukawas team employed careful techniques to ensure they wouldnt destroy the sugars in their attempts to find them, and were able to uncover ribose and other sugars.

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Astronomers look inside meteorites and find the sugars needed for life - Astronomy Magazine

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