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NASA finds sugar in meteorites that hit Earth



An international team of scientists discovered "biologically important" sugars in meteorites that also contain other biologically important compounds in a NASA press release on Tuesday.

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.

In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists analyzed three meteorites, including one that landed in Australia in 1969. It dates back billions of years. Previous studies have also attempted to investigate sugar meteors, but this time scientists used a different method of extraction using hydrochloric acid and water.

Scientists have found sugars such as arabinose and xylose ̵

1; but the most significant finding was ribose.

  A model of the molecular structure of ribose found in a meteorite.

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."

  Components for life found in meteorites that reached Earth [19659012] Ingredients for life found in meteorites that crashed on Earth

"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.

The study complements the growing list of evidence that meteorites may have led to terrestrial life. Last January, scientists discovered that two meteorites hold other components for life: amino acids, hydrocarbons, other organic substances, and traces of liquid water that could reach the early days of our solar system.

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