Scientists find building blocks of life in meteorites

The origins of life may soon have an extraterrestrial explanation. NASA-funded researchers today announced that they had uncovered evidence that some crucial components of DNA found in asteroids did not originate on earth.

“People have been discovering components of DNA in meteorites since the 1960’s, but researchers were unsure whether they were really created in space or if instead they came from contamination by terrestrial life,” said Dr. Michael Callahan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in a press release. “For the first time, we have three lines of evidence that together give us confidence these DNA building blocks actually were created in space.”

For decades the scientific community had hypothesized that a chemical process inside comets and meteorites could create elements of DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic acid.  The ladder-like molecule contains genetic “blueprints” needed to create life and living organisms. It’s made up of four different molecules, called nucleobases, which lock together rung-by-rung in the now-iconic double-helix shape.

Scientists point to three pieces of evidence supporting their claim. The first comes in the form of two of those nucleobase molecules, adenine and guanine, which they found in meteorites retrieved from Antarctica. The meteorites also contained trace amounts of three molecules similar in structure to nucleobases, two of which are “almost never used in biology.” These analogs, which seldom occur in nature, suggest that meteorites were essentially space-based chemistry labs that generated multiple variations of the nucleobase molecules.

“You would expect them to produce many variants of nucleobases, not just the biological ones, due to the wide variety of ingredients and conditions in each asteroid,” Callahan explains.

Scientists also ruled out the possibility that earth-based biological material contaminated the meteorites. Testing the surrounding ice, they detected few traces of the nucleobases and no trace at all of the analogs.

When the team attempted to recreate these nucleobases in a lab, they discovered that they were all created in a non-biological process, using “chemical reactions containing hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and water.”

“There seems to be a ‘goldilocks’ class of meteorite … where conditions are just right to make more of these molecules,” adds Callahan.

  • Ajit Vadakayil



    Punch into google search NASA, DNA BUILDING BLOCKS IN

    What do we know?


    Capt ajit vadakayil


  • barryswhitehalf

    Space, with an IQ of zero, creating nucleobases strictly by accident? Imagine that. And yet we, as “intelligent” human beings, can’t create life on purpose in the lab?

    Give me a break.

    • Logicplease

      So, we can’t make stars or black holes, either. What’s your point?

      • gooners

        You’re both wrong. DNA and RNA have been produced in the lab. They are just chemical compounds. Black holes can be made in particle accelerator. Stars are just fission reactions, which have been produced by hydrogen bombs (not technically in a lab, for logistical reasons).

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  • Logicplease

    The Jihads had this eventuality covered. They incorporated  a meterorite into their religion from the start. It’s what’s inside the box that Carol of Arabia is standing beside in Mecca.

  • leilani

    Wow. Does this mean I don’t have to feel guilty about not going to mass anymore?


      Won’t work, I tried.  You will reach the point where you feel guilty about not feeling guilty about feeling guilty……….. ad nauseum

  • BMF

    So, where did these building blocks of life come from?

    • David C


    • derp

      Space, durr.

    • leilani

      Darnit, you’re right. The pesky question of where the nucleobases came from remains,

      (Guilt resumed.)

      • loudog

        No mention of finding any traces of dogma.

        • leilani

          Hehheh. Good one. Wonder if that will fly with my Mom? 

          • loudog

            not likely, better stick with guilt.

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