Icy molecules a clue to our origins
Equipment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, right, mimics the extremely cold temperatures at the edge of a solar system.
September 24th, 2012
12:26 PM ET

Icy molecules a clue to our origins

Scientists think that water and organic molecules come together in the coldest places in space to begin the chemical reactions necessary for organics to evolve into prebiotic molecules - molecules that are precursors of life. Ice and organics could have hitched a ride to Earth on comets and asteroids, where they could have formed the building blocks of life as we know it.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are trying to better understand that process, and how life may have formed on Earth, by firing lasers at icy carbon-laden molecules in a lab.

Principal scientist Murthy Gudipati explained to CNN by e-mail: "In the cycle of formation, evolution, and death of stars, two key components of life (as we know of it): water and organic matter, evolve intimately with the third component energy (radiation) at every stage of this cycle - even at the coldest regions of the universe."

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Filed under: Discoveries • On Earth
Last Minute Inspection
September 24th, 2012
12:06 PM ET

Last Minute Inspection

"Sept. 24 marks the 82nd birthday of John W. Young, the only astronaut to fly aboard the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle spacecraft. In this 1965 photo, Young is going through last-minute checks before the mission's March 23 launch. Young was the pilot on this flight, which was commanded by original astronaut Gus Grissom."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen

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