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Topic: Amino Acids

NASA Scientists simulating Ocean Vents find evidence these features could have start Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Where did life first form on Earth? Some scientists think it could have been around hydrothermal vents that may have existed at the bottom of the ocean 4.5 billion years ago.

In a new paper in the journal Astrobiology, NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory describe how they mimicked possible ancient undersea environments with a complex experimental setup.

They showed that under extreme pressure, fluid from these ancient seafloor cracks mixed with ocean water could have reacted with minerals from the hydrothermal vents to produce organic molecules – the building blocks that compose nearly all life on Earth.

A seafloor vent called a "white smoker" spews mineral-rich water into the ocean and serves as an energy hub for living creatures. Some scientists think life on Earth may have begun around similar vents on the ocean floor billions of years ago. (NOAA/C. German (WHOI))

A seafloor vent called a “white smoker” spews mineral-rich water into the ocean and serves as an energy hub for living creatures. Some scientists think life on Earth may have begun around similar vents on the ocean floor billions of years ago. (NOAA/C. German (WHOI))

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What’s NASA Scientists Favorite Christmas Gift? Box Apollo Moon Soil

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Fortunately for NASA scientists today, Apollo-era leaders had the foresight to save much of the 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of Moon soil and rocks retrieved by NASA astronauts 50 years ago for future generations. They figured new crops of scientists, using instruments of their time, would be able to probe the samples with unprecedented rigor.

Now, the future that Apollo-era scientists envisioned has come. Their successors, many of whom weren’t even born when the last astronauts scooped up the Moon samples they’ll now be probing in their labs, are ready to take a giant leap towards answering long-standing questions about the evolution of our solar system.

Jose Aponte and Hannah McLain work in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The scientists who work in this lab analyze amino acids in Apollo samples, meteorites, and comet dust — in other words, in well-preserved remnants of the early solar system. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Molly Wasser)

Jose Aponte and Hannah McLain work in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The scientists who work in this lab analyze amino acids in Apollo samples, meteorites, and comet dust — in other words, in well-preserved remnants of the early solar system. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Molly Wasser)

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NASA’s Cassini mission data reveals New Organic Compounds in Enceladus Ice Grains

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New kinds of organic compounds, the ingredients of amino acids, have been detected in the plumes bursting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The findings are the result of the ongoing deep dive into data from NASA’s Cassini mission.

Powerful hydrothermal vents eject material from Enceladus’ core, which mixes with water from the moon’s massive subsurface ocean before it is released into space as water vapor and ice grains. The newly discovered molecules, condensed onto the ice grains, were determined to be nitrogen- and oxygen-bearing compounds.

In this image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini's viewpoint. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

In this image captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2007, the plumes of Enceladus are clearly visible. The moon is nearly in front of the Sun from Cassini’s viewpoint. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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NASA Scientists reproduce how life could have formed in Earth’s Oceans

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists have reproduced in the lab how the ingredients for life could have formed deep in the ocean 4 billion years ago. The results of the new study offer clues to how life started on Earth and where else in the cosmos we might find it.

Astrobiologist Laurie Barge and her team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working to recognize life on other planets by studying the origins of life here on Earth. Their research focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.

An image of Saturn's moon Enceladus backlit by the Sun, taken by the Cassini mission. The false color tail shows jets of icy particles and water that spray into space from an ocean that lies deep below the moon's icy surface. Future missions could search for the ingredients for life in an ocean on an icy moon like Enceladus. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

An image of Saturn’s moon Enceladus backlit by the Sun, taken by the Cassini mission. The false color tail shows jets of icy particles and water that spray into space from an ocean that lies deep below the moon’s icy surface. Future missions could search for the ingredients for life in an ocean on an icy moon like Enceladus. (NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

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NASA research shows Sugar Molecule may exist in Interstellar Space

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – When we think of sugar, it’s in the form of a holiday sweet or a reason to head back to gym after New Year’s Eve — we don’t usually think of the complex varieties that form the structural backbones of our very genetic code. And we certainly don’t think of sugar floating around in the vast darkness of space.

New research suggests that the sugar molecule that puts the “D” in DNA — 2-deoxyribose — could exist in the far reaches of space. A team of NASA astrophysicists were able to create DNA’s sugar in laboratory conditions that mimic interstellar space.

This enormous mosaic of the Milky Way galaxy from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows areas of interstellar space where dozens of dense clouds, called nebulas, are forming into new stars. (NASA)

This enormous mosaic of the Milky Way galaxy from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows areas of interstellar space where dozens of dense clouds, called nebulas, are forming into new stars. (NASA)

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American Heart Association says Dietary Sodium’s impact may not be offset by other aspects of a Diet

 

Hypertension Journal Report

American Heart AssociationDallas, TX – An international study suggests other aspects of the diet may not offset the harmful effect of sodium on blood pressure. The study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, also reaffirms the need for widespread sodium reduction in the food supply.

Researchers reviewed data on sodium intake and intake of 80 nutrients, such as proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, that may relate to blood pressure in 4,680 women and men (ages 40-59) in Japan, People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the United States participating in the INTERMAP study.

Where's the Salt? Infographic. (American Heart Association) «Read the rest of this article»

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NASA says New Test to help search for Life in the Universe

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A simple chemistry method could vastly enhance how scientists search for signs of life on other planets.

The test uses a liquid-based technique known as capillary electrophoresis to separate a mixture of organic molecules into its components. It was designed specifically to analyze for amino acids, the structural building blocks of all life on Earth.

The method is 10,000 times more sensitive than current methods employed by spacecraft like NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, according to a new study published in Analytical Chemistry. The study was carried out by researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Mono Lake, California, with salt pillars known as "tufas" visible. JPL scientists tested new methods for detecting chemical signatures of life in the salty waters here, believing them to be analogs for water on Mars or ocean worlds like Europa. (Mono County Tourism)

Mono Lake, California, with salt pillars known as “tufas” visible. JPL scientists tested new methods for detecting chemical signatures of life in the salty waters here, believing them to be analogs for water on Mars or ocean worlds like Europa. (Mono County Tourism)

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NASA researches develop Chemical Laptop that could look for life on other Planets

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you were looking for the signatures of life on another world, you would want to take something small and portable with you. That’s the philosophy behind the “Chemical Laptop” being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California: a miniaturized laboratory that analyzes samples for materials associated with life.

“If this instrument were to be sent to space, it would be the most sensitive device of its kind to leave Earth, and the first to be able to look for both amino acids and fatty acids,” said Jessica Creamer, a NASA postdoctoral fellow based at JPL.

Researchers took the Chemical Laptop to JPL's Mars Yard, where they placed the device on a test rover. This image shows the size comparison between the Chemical Laptop and a regular laptop. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers took the Chemical Laptop to JPL’s Mars Yard, where they placed the device on a test rover. This image shows the size comparison between the Chemical Laptop and a regular laptop. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA scientists use new Technique to examine meteor, comet materials for components of Life

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – While the origin of life remains mysterious, scientists are finding more and more evidence that material created in space and delivered to Earth by comet and meteor impacts could have given a boost to the start of life.

Some meteorites supply molecules that can be used as building blocks to make certain kinds of larger molecules that are critical for life.

Researchers have analyzed carbon-rich meteorites (carbonaceous chondrites) and found amino acids, which are used to make proteins.

This photo compares the sample size typically used in meteorite studies (yellow oval) to the sample size used with the new equipment (blue circle) in Goddard's Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory. (Michael Callahan)

This photo compares the sample size typically used in meteorite studies (yellow oval) to the sample size used with the new equipment (blue circle) in Goddard’s Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory. (Michael Callahan)

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NASA reports Asteroid to Flyby Earth on Friday, May 31st

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – It’s like deja vu. Another asteroid is paying a visit to the Earth-Moon system.

Asteroids have been a hot topic since February 15th  when one small asteroid exploded over Russia and another larger one, 2012 DA14, made a record setting close approach to Earth on the same day. This time the interloper is 1998 QE2, a potentially hazardous asteroid 2.7 km in diameter.  Astronomers are preparing to study the space rock as it harmlessly passes by on May 31st.

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