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Parts of DNA can form in space.

For the first time, scientists have made 2-deoxyribose, the sugar that makes up the backbone of DNA, under cosmic conditions in the lab by blasting ice with radiation. The result, reported December 18 in Nature Communications, suggests that there are several ways for prebiotic chemistry to take place in space, and supports the idea that the stuff of life could have been delivered to Earth from elsewhere.

“It tells us that this process happens everywhere, at least in our galaxy,” says astrochemist Michel Nuevo of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

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