VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Astrochemistry researcher Dr Max Bernstein in his laboratory, where he simulates conditions found in space. Common molecules such as water, ammonia and simple hydrocarbons are mixed in glass bulbs (yellow), and frozen to produce ices such as found in comets and interstellar gas clouds. These ices 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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