Finally, all the basic units of the so-called “life molecule” were found in the meteorite samples. The discovery by Japanese researchers ended the mapping of two DNA bases, cytosine and thymine.
This is important because the five nucleobases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil) make up all of the DNA and RNA. These, in turn, contain instructions for the construction and use of every living thing on earth.
While the discovery supports the panspermia hypothesis, it is not conclusive evidence that life on Earth was sown from space. Therefore, we still cannot reject another well-established theory in this area that explains the birth of life from the prebiotic cooking available at the beginning of the planet.
Now, scientists are better able to understand how life originated on earth, and even to perform experiments that help answer one of the main questions posed so far: “How can an inanimate chemical compound change itself and give birth to living beings?” .
“This adds more and more tracks; the meteorites now have sugars and bases. It’s exciting to see progress in making basic molecules in biology from space,” said Daniel Glavin of NASA’s Goddard Space Center.
New method of analysis
Until now, researchers who had studied extraterrestrial samples had identified only three of the five nucleobases. It was Professor Hiroshi Naraoka’s team at Hokkaido University that managed to identify the other two.
It is believed that cytosine and thymine had not been previously identified because meteorites were sampled. In previous experiments, scientists created a kind of “meteorite”. In other words, they put stone grains in hot formic acid to allow the molecules to be extracted from the solution.
However, this solution may have weakened the more delicate structure of the two bases.
This time, Japanese researchers used cold water to extract the compounds. In addition, they used equipment that was able to perform more sensitive analyzes. In other words, they were able to identify smaller amounts of molecules present.
This research is important not only because it has completed a picture of the molecules that may have shaped the beginning of life on Earth. New extraction technology will allow scientists to collect data on meteors and asteroids more efficiently – especially from Bennu’s samples, which are in the OSIRIS-REx mission and are expected to arrive on Earth in 2023.
Through technological innovation
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