Astrochemistry researcher

Astrochemistry researcher

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This image is part of the feature Life In Space



Caption: Astrochemistry researcher Dr Louis Allamandola in his laboratory, where he simulates the conditions in space. Common molecules such as water, ammonia and simple hydrocarbons are frozen at temperatures of 10 Kelvin in the cryostat seen here. The ices, similar to those in comets & interstellar nebulae, are exposed to ultraviolet radiation to simulate sunlight. Amino acids, the basic building blocks of life, were detected in 2002 as products of this organic photochemistry. This supports the theories that the origin of life on Earth, and elsewhere in the universe, involved space ice impacting planets and depositing organic materials. Photographed at NASA's Ames Research Center, California, USA.

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