15 July 2011
We’ve long known that the individual atoms that make up our bodies, and everything around us, come from stars. Recently, however, scientists are discovering that complex molecules can be found out in interstellar space. Using the samples returned by the Stardust spacecraft, scientists detected the amino acid glycine fully formed in a comet’s tail. Only this glycine wasn’t like that here on Earth; it was built with some subtle differences – clues to its interstellar heritage.
For information about the Stardust mission, see: http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov/
— Colin Schultz, AGU science writer