Asteroids – rocky objects near Earth that orbit the sun – are the parent bodies of most meteorites. The theory suggests that chemical reactions in asteroids can create some of the elements essential to life.
Scientists have found sugars such as arabinose and xylose ̵1; but the most significant finding was ribose.
Ribose plays a very important role in our human biology.
According to a press release, RNA (ribonucleic acid) exists in our molecules and delivers reports from our DNA to help build proteins for our bodies.
"It is remarkable that there could be Ancient material in a molecule such as ribose," said Jason Dworkin, NASA, co-author of the study, in a press release. The discovery of ribose also suggests that RNA has evolved before DNA, giving scientists a clearer picture of how life could have formed.
DNA has long been considered a "template of life" – but according to a press release, RNA molecules have more capabilities than replication without the help of other molecules. These other abilities, combined with the fact that scientists still have to find sugars in DNA in meteorites, support the theory that "RNA coordinated the apparatus of life before DNA."
"Research provides first direct evidence of space-borne ribose and sugar supply to Earth," said Yoshihiro Furukawa, Japan Tohoku University, principal author of the study, in a press release. "Extraterrestrial sugar may have contributed to the formation of RNA on the prebiotic Earth, which probably led to life."
Of course, there is a possibility that meteorites have been contaminated with life on Earth – but testing found evidence that this is unlikely and sugars universe.
Now scientists continue to analyze meteorites to see how large these sugars are and how they could affect life on Earth.