Asteroid Ryugu Samples Find a Component of RNA

Asteroid Ryugu Samples Find a Component of RNA ...

NASA Goddard/JAXA/Dan Gallagher take a conceptual picture of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft's materials.

Nitrogenous organic compounds are found in samples from the asteroid Ryugu, which was collected by the Hayabusa2 mission. This includes the nucleobase uracil, which is a part of RNA.

Researchers have looked into asteroid Ryugu's Hayabusa2 spacecraft's findings and discovered uracil, one of the informational components that make up RNA, the molecules that regulate how to maintain and operate living organisms. Nicotinic acid, also known as Vitamin B3, is an important cofactor for metabolism in living organisms.

Photographs of A0106 and C0107 taken from the asteroid Ryugu during the first and second touchdown sampling, respectively.

The research of an international team led by Associate Professor Yasuhiro Oba at Hokkaido University adds to evidence that important life components are created in space and might have been delivered to Earth by meteorites today (March 21).

'Contamination can be ruled out by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft's collection of two samples directly from the asteroid Ryugu and their delivery to Earth in sealed capsules,' Oba said.

Hayabusa2's journey to asteroid Ryugu in Japan is illustrated in this photo by JAXA.

The researchers soaked the Ryugu particles in hot water, followed by analyses using liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry. This revealed the presence of uracil and nicotinic acid, as well as other nitrogen-containing organic compounds.

Yasuhiro Oba, et al. Nature Communications. March 21, 2023

„Audio acids, amino acids, and carboxylic acids, which are found in proteins and metabolism, were found in the samples in small quantities,” Oba explained.

The difference in concentrations in the two samples, collected from different locations on Ryugu, is likely to be related to the intense space environments. These included ammonia, formaldehyde, and hydrogen cyanide, and Ryugu might have been formed as a comet or another parent body that had been present in low-temperature environments.

Oba concludes that the discovery of uracil in Ryugu confirms current speculations concerning the origin of nucleobases in the early Earth. "A comparative analysis of the composition of these asteroids will support these conclusions."

Nature Communications, Reference: "Uracil in the carbonaceous asteroid (162173) Ryugu," 21 March 2023. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36904-3

Funding: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Centre national d'études spatiales, Australian Aeronautics and Space Administration, Japan Society for Science Promotion

The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in 2014 by a Japanese space agency with the intention of studying the asteroid Ryugu and re-creating samples for Earth. In 2018, the spacecraft arrived at Ryugu and spent over a year studying the asteroid's surface and interior, using a missile to create a small crater on the asteroid's surface and collecting subsurface material from the impact site. In December 2020, the spacecraft returned to Earth, providing first-ever subsurface

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