22nd November 2019

With the help of gas chromatography, for the first time ever, researchers at Tohoku University in Japan have discovered the presence of sugar molecules in meteorites.

Gas Chromatography Investigates the Presence of Sugars in Meteorites

The new discovery gives us more insight on the hypothesis that chemical reactions in space rocks – asteroids – might have had a biological role to play in the formation of early, primitive life on planet earth.

The study indicates that these sugar molecules are crucial for biological processes and that their presence on Earth might have initiated the development of the earliest biological compounds and processes.

Using gas chromatography – mass spectrometry, the research team analyzed two different meteorites with a high carbon content. The study found that ribose – an essential component of ribonucleic acid (RNA) – was present in the two meteorites, along with other biologically important compounds, including amino acids and nucleobases. The team also noted the sugars found came from outer space, potentially arriving on Earth by space rocks.

In an article published by NASA, the researchers said, “Ribose is an essential sugar for present life as a building block of RNA, which could have both stored information and catalyzed reactions in primitive life on Earth.

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NASA - Sugars in meteorites

Extraterrestrial ribose and other sugars in primitive meteorites

India Times - Sugar molecules that spurred life on Earth found in space rocks

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