Scientists discover building blocks of RNA in asteroid sample

March 21 (UPI) — Scientists have discovered some of the building blocks of life in samples recovered from asteroid Ryugu. The discovery supports the idea that many of the important chemicals that shaped life on Earth came from outer space, the researchers say.

The sample was collected from Japan Space Agency Hayabusa2 spacecraft in 2018 and returned to Earth in 2020.

The samples are the oldest that scientists have been able to study in the lab because they precede the complete formation of the Earth and provide a clue as to what chemicals were seeded on the planet in its primordial phase.

Initial examination of the sample showed that it contained organic matter, including racemic amino acids, one of the building blocks of ribonucleic acid, or RNA. Initial analysis also revealed the presence of other organic compounds, including alkylamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrogen-containing heterocycles, and carboxylic acids.

Further research led by Yasuhiro Ōba of the Japanese University of Hokkaido, published in a scientific journal. Nature, uncoated uracil and nicotinic acid. The discovery of uracil is important because it is a key nuclease in RNA.

“The present study suggests that such molecules of prebiotic interest were commonly formed on carbonaceous asteroids, including Ryugu, and brought to early Earth,” the researchers said. studying.

The difference in uracil concentration levels between the samples is likely due to exposure to cosmic rays, the researchers said.

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