Materials for Life Found in Samples from Asteroid Ryugu

Science Society

Tokyo, July 10 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese research team said Wednesday that it has found many organic substances that can serve as raw materials for amino acids, nucleic acid bases, and other materials essential for life, in sand samples brought back by the Hayabusa2 explorer from the asteroid Ryugu.

The research was published in the online edition of the journal Nature Communications.

The team extracted water-soluble components from the sand samples and analyzed them in detail. It then identified a total of 84 kinds of organic substances, including pyruvic acid, malic acid and mevalonic acid, which can be used to produce proteins, DNA and cell membranes, respectively.

Meanwhile, based on the ratio of organic substances that become unstable when exposed to water, the team found that the parent body of Ryugu was born about 4.6 billion years ago, and that it was rich in water for a long time.

Asteroid samples had already been found to contain 23 amino acids and uracil, a nucleic acid base. "Precursors of amino acids and uracil were discovered this time," said Yoshinori Takano, a senior researcher at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, or JAMSTEC.

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