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NASA Experiments With 'Building Blocks' of Life in Lab

© fat llamaA Rhodamine laser dye (fluorescing orange) pumped with several Watts of Argon-ion laser radiation (bright blue)
A Rhodamine laser dye (fluorescing orange) pumped with several Watts of Argon-ion laser radiation (bright blue) - Sputnik International
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A group of scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are studying the origin of life on Earth, and they’ve made a major breakthrough, discovering that the building blocks of life could be prevalent on exoplanets throughout the universe.

The scientists say they have been able to reproduce in a lab the three building blocks of life: uracil, thymine, and cytosine. Researchers consider those three materials to be the key components of hereditary material.

Uracil, cytosine, and thymine are all three parts of a genetic code found in ribonucleic (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA). RNA and DNA are key to protein synthesis.

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The scientists reproduced thymine, uracil, and cytosine in a lab environment and in conditions similar to that of outer space. They also exposed carbon and nitrogen molecules to extreme levels of radiation: the same kind you would find in space.

Meanwhile, Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory have found the presence of these building blocks on a young star hundreds of light years  away from Earth. Discovered in the star system MWC 480, nearly 455 light years from Earth, the findings mark the first time that such a discovery has been made.

Just one million years old, the star is around twice the mass of the Sun, and is in the very early stages of development.

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"From the study of exoplanets, we know the Solar System isn't unique in its number of planets or abundance of water," Karin Öbery of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told the magazine Gizmag. "Now we know we're not unique in organic chemistry. Once more, we have learned that we're not special. From a life in the universe point of view, this is great news."

While the origin of life on Earth remains a mystery, the building blocks of life are believed to have existed on Earth since its formation.

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