Mark Swain of NASA, who led the team, said it was a "crucial stepping stone" to characterising prebiotic molecule
on planets where life could exist.
Since that time, amino acids seem to be on the forefront of prebiotic molecule
research, which includes the study of DNA, RNA, proteinoids (Sidney Fox), ribozymes (Thomas Cech & Sidney Airman), and pre-RNA molecules such as peptide nucleic acid (Peter E.
This is the first ever detection of this prebiotic molecule
towards solar-type protostars, the sort from which our Solar System evolved.
Various research organisations associated with NASA will study how water is trapped on the Moon despite it having no atmosphere for protection, the process of space weathering, or how exposure to space affects the geology of the Moon, how prebiotic molecules
such as amino acids are preserved within the lunar soil, and estimate the age of the samples by studying the amount of noble gases in them.
These minerals are important pre concentrating agents for prebiotic molecules
Preliminary work by Ranjan and his collaborators suggest that sulfidic anions would have sped up the chemical reactions required to convert very simple prebiotic molecules
into RNA, a genetic building block of life.
Methyl isocyanate is one of the family of prebiotic molecules
, which are considered the precursors to the formation of more complex compounds, like amino acids and peptides, that are eventually linked to the existence of life as we know it.
In research presented at the Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London, astronomers discussed the dusty, stormy atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs and how they could be hothouses for the formation of prebiotic molecules
"Many of the interstellar molecules discovered to date are the same kinds detected in laboratory experiments specifically designed to synthesize prebiotic molecules
. This fact suggests a universal prebiotic chemistry," said Jan M.
Yet these prebiotic molecules
rarely combine into chains of more than 10 to 20 links.
"This is the first molecule detected in interstellar space that has the property of chirality, making it a pioneering leap forward in our understanding of how prebiotic molecules
are made in the universe and the effects they may have on the origins of life," Brett McGuire, a chemist and Jansky postdoctoral fellow with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia, and author of a paper published on the study in the journal Science, said in a statement.