Volume 94 Issue 15 | pp. 6-8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 11, 2016 | Web Date: April 7, 2016

Comet collisions may have helped seed life on Earth, lab experiment shows

Researchers produce ribose—a sugar important to sustaining life—in the icy conditions experienced by comets in outer space
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Biological SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: Astrochemistry, comets, origin-of-life, ribose

By exposing methanol, water, and ammonia—simple compounds found in the ice of comets—to conditions found in outer space—ultraviolet radiation and icy cold temperatures—researchers have formed a diversity of organic molecules in the lab. One of these molecules, the five-carbon sugar ribose, typically appears in the backbone of ribonucleic acid (RNA), a candidate for the first self-replicating genetic material used by life on Earth, explains Uwe Meierhenrich, a physical chemist at the University . . .

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