Uracil found in Ryugu samples
SAPPORO, Japan, March 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers have analyzed samples of asteroid Ryugu collected by the Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft and found uracil—one of the informational units that make up RNA, the molecules that contain the instructions for how to build and operate living organisms. Nicotinic acid, also known as Vitamin B3 or niacin, which is an important cofactor for metabolism in living organisms, was also detected in the same samples.
- "Since the Hayabusa2 spacecraft collected two samples directly from asteroid Ryugu and delivered them to Earth in sealed capsules, contamination can be ruled out."
- The team hypothesizes that the difference in concentrations in the two samples, collected from different locations on Ryugu, is likely due to the exposure to the extreme environments of space.
- While these were not detected in the Ryugu samples, they are known to be present in cometary ice—and Ryugu could have originated as a comet or another parent body which had been present in low temperature environments.
- "The discovery of uracil in the samples from Ryugu lends strength to current theories regarding the source of nucleobases in the early Earth," Oba concludes.