Aug 18, 2009

in the stardust of a comet

Boosting theories that life on Earth was seeded from interstellar bodies, the amino acid glycine has been isolated in comet leavings.
Previously, researchers have found amino acids in space rocks that fell to Earth as meteorites, and tentative evidence for the compounds has been detected in interstellar space. Now, an amino acid called glycine has been definitively traced to an icy comet for the first time.

"It's not necessarily surprising, but it's very satisfying to find it there because it hasn't been observed before," says Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, lead author of the new study. "It's been looked for [on comets] spectroscopically with telescopes but the content seems so low you can't see it that way."
It's fantastic to finally see the results of research that began in 1998 with the launching of NASA's Stardust mission. Read more about NASA's astrobiology efforts here. Read more about Elsila here.

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