An amino acid has been found on a comet for the first time, a new analysis of samples from NASA's Stardust mission reveals. The discovery confirms that some of the building blocks of life were delivered to the early Earth from space.
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. [...]
The researchers spent two years trying to find out - a painstaking task since there was so little of the comet dust to study. In fact, there was not enough material to trace the source of any compound except for glycine, the simplest amino acid.
"It's a great piece of laboratory work," says Lunine. "It's probably something that couldn't have been done remotely with a robotic instrument - it points to the value of returning samples."
Found: first amino acid on a comet
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