Home » SCIENCE » NASA Reproduces 3 Building Blocks of Life in Harsh Space Conditions
Left to right: Ames scientists Michel Nuevo, Christopher Materese and Scott Sandford reproduce uracil, cytosine, and thymine, three key components of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. Image Credit: NASA/ Dominic Hart

NASA Reproduces 3 Building Blocks of Life in Harsh Space Conditions

Now that NASA scientists have reproduced uracil, cytosine, and thymine, three key components of our hereditary material, in the laboratory, the question is how would it help the mankind or replicate the mankind in outer space.

NASA said its scientists discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions was able to produce the three essential ingredients of life.

Nucleobases structures

Pyrimidine is a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen and is the central structure for uracil, cytosine, and thymine, which are found in RNA and DNA. Image Credit: NASA

Nucleobases cytosine thymine image

The ring-shaped molecule pyrimidine is found in cytosine and thymine. Image Credit: NASA

Pyrimidine molecule is made up of carbon and nitrogen and is the central structure for uracil, cytosine, and thymine, which together form the genetic code found in ribonucleic (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA). RNA and DNA are key to protein synthesis, besides other uses.

“We have demonstrated for the first time that we can make uracil, cytosine, and thymine, all three components of RNA and DNA, non-biologically in a laboratory under conditions found in space,” said Michel Nuevo of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

“We are showing that these laboratory processes, which simulate conditions in outer space, can make several fundamental building blocks used by living organisms on Earth,” said Dr. Nuevo.

Nobody really understands how life began on Earth but now these scientists say their experiments suggest that once the Earth formed, many of the building blocks of life were likely present from the beginning. “Since we are simulating universal astrophysical conditions, the same is likely wherever planets are formed,” says Scott Sandford, a space scientist at Ames, which means replication of life in outer space is the next step that NASA may undertake.

The research was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the NASA Origins of Solar Systems Program.

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