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Icy Birth? Amino acids form in simulations of space ice

In another step toward understanding the origin of Earth's biological molecules, two independent laboratory experiments have produced amino acids–the building blocks of proteins–by simulating conditions in icy, interstellar space.

The results, published in the March 28 Nature, suggest that some amino acids could have formed in giant clouds of icy particles and then hitched rides on comets and asteroids to planets throughout the universe, says Max Bernstein of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.

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