But astronomers in this climate now say they've detected interstellar aminoacetonitrile, a molecular precursor to the prized target glycine. Because glycine is the simplest amino acid, its identification in space would imply that the conditions for prebiotic chemistry are widespread throughout the universe. But interstellar glycine remains undetected, and astronomers are getting frustrated with the molecule's apparent absence. "I looked for glycine for over 25 years and never found it," says Jan M. Hollis, an astronomer with the National Aeronautics & Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
by Elizabeth K. Wilson |
June 16, 2008