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NASA Says That Sugar Molecules Exist in Dark Space

These sugar derivatives can evolve into the sugars used in DNA and RNA in the presence of water, giving researchers new avenues to explore about the chemistry of life's beginnings

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US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

The sugar that makes up DNA could be floating around in the vast darkness of space, say scientists at the US space agency NASA.

The research suggests that the sugar molecule that puts the “D” in DNA — 2-deoxyribose — could exist in the far reaches of space.

In laboratory conditions that mimic interstellar space, a team of NASA astrophysicists were able to create DNA’s sugar.

According to them, yet another of life’s critical chemical building blocks could be widespread in the universe and potentially seed other planets as well.

“We don’t yet know whether life is common in the universe but we’re pretty sure the presence of life’s building blocks is not a limiting factor,” said lead author Michel Nuevo, a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

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The research suggests that the sugar molecule that puts the “D” in DNA — 2-deoxyribose — could exist in the far reaches of space. Pixabay

The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, represent the first solid evidence of the formation of DNA’s sugar in an astrophysical setting.

These complex sugars add to the growing list of organic compounds found on meteorites and in cosmic-like laboratory conditions. These include amino acids, the building blocks of proteins; nucleobases, the basic units of the genetic code; and amphiphiles, the class of molecules used by life to produce the membranes around cells.

“The universe is an organic chemist. It has big beakers and lots of time – and the result is a lot of organic material, some of which is useful to life,” said Scott Sandford, a senior scientist in the Ames astrochemistry lab.

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The early Earth was probably showered with such materials as meteoroids and comets pummelled its surface. Sugar derivatives like sugar acids and sugar alcohols have been found in these samples.

These sugar derivatives can evolve into the sugars used in DNA and RNA in the presence of water, giving researchers new avenues to explore about the chemistry of life’s beginnings. (IANS)

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Live Broadcast of Meteor Shower to Be Available on NASA Meteor Watch Facebook Page

Across the Northern Hemisphere, sky watchers will be treated to a stunning array of meteors streaking overhead from late Sunday into early Monday

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Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Print this page Comments Science & Health Perseid Meteor Shower to Peak This Week By VOA News August 11, 2019 11:09 PM A photographer sets up his camera hoping to document the universal phenomenon of the Perseid Meteor Shower, in the Valley of Whales, in Fayoum, Egypt, Aug. 12, 2017. (H. Elrasam/VOA) A photographer sets up his camera hoping to document the universal phenomenon of the Perseid Meteor Shower, in the Valley of Whales, in Fayoum, Egypt, Aug. 12, 2017. VOA

The best meteor shower of the year is upon us.

Across the Northern Hemisphere, sky watchers will be treated to a stunning array of meteors streaking overhead from late Sunday into early Monday, as well as Monday night into early Tuesday.

The Perseids occur when Earth enters the debris field left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Earth entered the debris field in late July, but this weekend will be the peak, with as many as 50 meteors streaking by every hour. The Earth will exit the debris field in late August.

According to NASA, a live broadcast of the meteor shower from a camera in Huntsville, Alabama, will be available on the NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page after 8 p.m. EDT Sunday (0000 UTC Monday).

Meteor Shower, Live, NASA
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us. Pixabay

For best viewing, NASA recommends going away from bright city lights to darker areas.

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The meteors can be seen in all directions, NASA says. And all you need are your eyes; no binoculars or telescopes required. People should give their eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark, NASA adds. (VOA)