Researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute have discovered a key ingredient for the development of life in a meteorite from Mars.
Boron, a chemical element believed to have played a key role in the formation of RNA, was identified in Martian rocks found in Antarctica.
Using the ion microprobe in the W. M. Keck Cosmochemistry Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, the team was able to analyze veins of Martian clay in the meteorite that, after ruling out contamination from Earth, they determined contained 10 times more boron than in any meteorite previously measured.
“Borates may have been important for the origin of life on Earth because they can stabilize ribose, a crucial component of RNA,” postdoctoral student James Stephenson said. “In early life RNA is thought to have been the informational precursor to DNA.”
The findings suggest that when life was budding on Earth, life-giving borates may have been evident on Mars, too. Check out the full story over at Nature World News.
— Alice Terry