Scientists for the first time in history managed to find the key building blocks of SNK on an extraterrestrial object. Japanese researchers discovered on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu uracil, one of the five nucleic bases that make up the human genetic code, as well as niacin, a form of vitamin B3 responsible for metabolism. A number of other organic molecules have also been discovered.
This is stated in a report published in the journal Nature Communications. This discovery may be a confirmation of the theory that the basis for the emergence of life on Earth was brought from space. It also suggests that rudimentary life could exist somewhere in the solar system.
“Because uracil and other nucleic bases are present in space, this means that the ingredients for nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are present in this environment,” said Yasuhiro Oba, an astrochemist at the University of Hokkaido in Japan, lead author of the study.
Ohba added that, in his opinion, “it is difficult to rule out the possibility that some forms of life are present in the extraterrestrial environment.”
Five nucleic bases – adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine and uracil – in combination with ribose and phosphate form DNA and RNA, which make up the genetic code of all life on Earth. It is from RNA that proteins are formed that build and maintain cells, as well as create more copies of DNA.
The discovery of Japanese scientists was made thanks to the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, sent to obtain samples of the rock that makes up the asteroid Ryugu. It is believed that the asteroid comes from the same nebula that gave birth to the Sun and the planets of our system about 4.6 billion years ago.
Other building blocks for life were also found in the samples that Hayabusa2 sent back to Earth, including 15 different amino acids.
The origin of life on Earth is a contentious issue, with various potential environments proposed, including oceanic hydrothermal vents and land-based hot springs. metabolic reactions, DNA replication, the transport of molecules, and the formation of the structure of cells and organisms,” the researchers said.
Although the samples from Ryugu hinted scientists at unraveling the mystery of the origin of life on Earth, they asked another question: where exactly did these foundations come from for the appearance of life on Ryugu itself or in the nebula from which it originates. So far, scientists have no answer to this, but there is a theory.
Scientists speculate that amino acids and nucleotides could have formed when interstellar ice (which made up the asteroid) was pierced by intense cosmic rays. It probably broke down simple molecules such as formaldehyde, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide and restored them into more complex configurations. Subsequently, an asteroid like Ryugu could have brought these molecules to Earth, where they gave rise to life in the primitive oceans.
In addition to Ryugu, humanity is also studying the asteroid Bennu, samples of which were collected in 2021 by the NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. When these samples return to Earth in September 2023, scientists are likely to have new clues about the evolution of the solar system and its materials, as well as hints at how life originated from them.
Earlier, GLOBAL HAPPENINGS also talked about scientists who put forward a new theory of the origin of life on Earth.
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