Building Block for Life Found in Mars Meteorite
Scientists have found a potential building block for life in a Martian meteorite recovered from Antarctica.
Parts of the rock contain rich concentrations of boron, which biochemists suspect played a key role in the development of ribonucleic acid, or RNA.
“I had read how important boron could have been in the origins of life, stabilizing a part of RNA,” biologist James Stephenson, with the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the University of Hawaii told Discovery News.
RNA is a biological molecule, which scientists believe was the stepping stone for life on Earth. It, like deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, which evolved later, can store and transmit information to cells.
RNA is comprised of three basic components: phosphate, a ribose, which is a five-carbon sugar, and a nucleobase. Both phosphates and nucleobases have been found in meteorites previously. Ribose has never been found beyond Earth.
“Of the three parts that make RNA, the ribose is the tricky part. We haven’t been able to explain how it could form naturally,” Stephenson said.
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