This article is free to access.
The pristine sample from the near-Earth carbonaceous asteroid (162173) Ryugu collected by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft enabled us to analyze the pristine extraterrestrial material without uncontrolled exposure to the Earth’s atmosphere and biosphere. The initial analysis team for the soluble organic matter reported the detection of wide variety of organic molecules including racemic amino acids in the Ryugu samples. Here we report the detection of uracil, one of the four nucleobases in ribonucleic acid, in aqueous extracts from Ryugu samples. In addition, nicotinic acid (niacin, a B3 vitamer), its derivatives, and imidazoles were detected in search for nitrogen heterocyclic molecules. The observed difference in the concentration of uracil between A0106 and C0107 may be related to the possible differences in the degree of alteration induced by energetic particles such as ultraviolet photons and cosmic rays. The present study strongly suggests that such molecules of prebiotic interest commonly formed in carbonaceous asteroids including Ryugu and were delivered to the early Earth.
Oba, Y., Koga, T., Takano, Y., Ogawa, N. O., Ohkouchi, N., Sasaki, K., … Tsuda, Y. (2023). Uracil in the carbonaceous asteroid (162173) Ryugu. Nature Communications, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36904-3