Could the first biochemically- relevant species have already appeared in the interstellar medium?
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COOL (Cosmic Origins of Life; 2019-T1/TIC-15379)

Principal Investigator: Victor M. Rivilla, funded by the Talent Attraction for Experienced Doctors programme

The project COOL (Cosmic Origins Of Life), aims at elucidating to what extent the first biochemically-relevant species leading to the origin of Life could have appeared already in the interstellar medium. For this, COOL is pushing the limits of Astrochemistry towards detecting key molecular species in space. The COOL studies are focused on understanding how the precursors of building blocks of nucleotides (phosphates, sugars and nucleobases) can form in space. To achieve this goal, COOL uses a highly innovative approach that combines pioneering astronomical observations of molecular clouds and star-forming regions with state-of-the-art chemical models and advanced laboratory experiments. The final aim is to understand whether Biochemistry can already occur in the interstellar medium, assembling the basic pieces of DNA and RNA in outer space. This research has the potential to revolutionize our view of how Life may have originated on Earth and on how it may appear in other planetary systems.

Discovery of hydroxylamine (NH2OH), considered one of the essential building blocks of RNA ribonucleotides, towards the molecular cloud G+0.693-0.027. The background image was obtained with the Spitzer space telescope. Credits: Nasa Spitzer Space Telescope, camera IRAC4 (8 micron) / Ben Mills / / Víctor M. Rivilla (CAB,CSIC-INTA).

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