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Life Origins Roundup

October 19, 2007

A new study suggests that scientists looking for extraterrestrial life should look in interstellar space clouds, made of hydrogen cyanide gas.


Space clouds and life. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

An organic molecule called adenine is an essential building block of life on earth. An article in the journal Astrobiology suggests the source of adenine was extraterrestrial dust clouds. They believe adenine forms within hydrogen cyanide clouds, which have been observed in interstellar space. The researchers suggest that scientists searching for extraterrestrial life should focus on areas rich in these gas clouds, since they may have jump-started life on other worlds, as well.

Speaking of other worlds, University of Chicago researchers report that Titan, the largest moon of the planet Saturn, has a climate that resembles that of Brazil—except that it’s hundreds of degrees below zero. They explain that instead of water vapor, the moon has methane vapor, which forms clouds and rain and other tropical-like phenomenon at very low temperatures. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.