Thank Meteorites for Life on Earth?

Space rocks hold elements of DNA
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 9, 2011 3:27 PM CDT
A meteorite the a size of a tennis ball is seen in a lab in Washington.   (AP Photo/Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, Chip Clark)

(Newser) – The ingredients for DNA aren’t just here on Earth—they can develop in space, too, a study suggests. Scientists with NASA and the Carnegie Institution analyzed 12 meteorites and found that 11 of them contained nucleobases, the rings in the middle of DNA molecules. That means the space rocks may have played a role in the development of life on this planet—and beyond, the Washington Post reports.

“Meteorites may have served as a molecular kit providing essential ingredients for the origin of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere,” the scientists say. Researchers have found nucleobases in meteorites before, but it’s never been clear whether the rings came to Earth in the meteorites, or were simply picked up after the rocks landed. This time, scientists found nucleobases they’d never seen before; they also tested soil where the meteorites were discovered and found that it didn’t contain the rings. “I don’t think it’s contamination,” says an expert.

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