From The Morton Blog

We Are Made of Star Stuff: Building Blocks of DNA Found on Meteorites

By , Columnist
Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff."


NASA-funded researchers have discovered new evidence of two of the building blocks of DNA -- adenine and guanine -- on samples of twelve carbon-rich meteorites, nine of which were found in Antarctica. Adenine and guanine join together to form the rungs of the DNA ladder along with thymine and cytosine.

Researchers have found DNA components (the building blocks of life) since the 1960s but were not certain if the rocks had been contaminated by terrestrial life or actually created in space, until recently.

Dr. Michael Callahan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the lead researcher of the discovery said, “For the first time, we have three lines of evidence that together give us confidence these DNA building blocks actually were created in space” as other nucleobases also present on the meteorites do not occur naturally on earth. In addition, the Antarctic ice from which the meteorites were found did not have the chemical makeup that would support terrestrial contamination theories.

As it turns out, the key to finding creatures from other worlds doesn't require staring deeply into the night sky, but possibly only a quick glance into a bathroom mirror.

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Holly is a freelance writer and copy editor with a background in journalism and publishing. Like a grandmother's purse, she is about three decades old, worn around the edges and mostly full of crap.

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