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Scientists discover Martian clay contains element critical for life

June 12, 2013

Scientists discover Martian clay contains element critical for life

Life from a meteorite?

According to a report published earlier this week in PLOS One, researchers have found materials implicated with the emergence of life in a Martian meteorite. Born from a unique interdisciplinary environment, the paper ties together the workings of evolutionary biology and cosmo-chemistry, specialties of lead authors James Stephenson and Lydia Hallis.

The research took place at the University of Hawaii’s NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI), with the discovery of high concentrations of boron in the meteorite. In its oxidized form (borate), it’s believed that boron played a critical role in the formation of RNA, a key building block for life. Despite this well documented relationship, boron remains largely unstudied in meteorites.

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