A team of researchers from NASA has managed to identify two more nucleotides in meteorite samples, the basic building blocks of DNA and RNA. Scientists can now say with certainty that the space has all 5 nitrogenous bases of the key molecules that are the basis of life. The nucleotides found are cytosine and thymine. The other bases - adenine, guanine and uracil - have previously been found in naturally occurring space objects.
"A special technique was developed to extract the extremely delicate compounds. This is how cytosine was identified and extracted. This is astonishing because it is a very fragile base," said Jason Dworkin, co-author of the paper at NASA. In past experiments, the researchers created a kind of "meteorite tea" by placing meteorite fragments in a hot bath of formic acid. The experts then analyzed the molecular composition of the extraterrestrial solution.
However, because of formic acid, the same cytosine and thymine were at risk of destruction. Still, the scientists managed to find them. This time, a cool liquid was used instead of hot acid. So, the new discovery still doesn't give a definitive answer about the origin of life on Earth - was it brought in from far away space? But now researchers can definitely consider the possibility and begin a new series of experiments to find answers.