A Box of Treasure from Asteroid Ryugu
NASA scientist Heather Graham receives a shipment of asteroid Ryugu samples from her colleagues at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Transcript available.
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More from NASA: First look at Ryugu asteroid sample reveals it is organic-rich.
This conceptual image illustrates the types of organic molecules found in the sample of asteroid Ryugu collected by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. Organics are the building blocks of all known forms of terrestrial life and consist of a wide variety of compounds made of carbon combined with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and other atoms. However, organic molecules can also be created by non-living processes, such as chemical reactions in asteroids.
Credit: NASA/JAXA/Dan Gallagher
Researchers have analyzed samples of asteroid Ryugu and discovered uracil, one of the informational units of RNA, and niacin, a form of vitamin B3 that is critical to metabolism. The discovery by an international team adds to the evidence that important building blocks of life are created in space and could have been delivered to Earth by meteorites.
Credit: JAXA/NASA/Dan Gallagher
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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
- William Steigerwald (NASA/GSFC)
- Daniel Glavin (NASA/GSFC)
- Heather Graham (Catholic University of America)
- Hiroshi Naraoka (Kyushu University)
- Jason Dworkin (NASA/GSFC)
- Yasuhiro Oba (Hokkaido University)
- Yoshinori Takano (JAMSTEC)
- Dan Gallagher (KBRwyle)
- LK Ward (KBRwyle)
- John Caldwell (AIMM)
- Lonnie Shekhtman (ADNET)
- Yoshiko Sugahara (None)
- Aaron E. Lepsch (ADNET)