NASA Ames Research Center chemist George Cooper and colleagues examined bits of carbon-rich asteroid chunks known as Murray and Murchison, meteorites that streaked to Earth in 1950 and 1969, respectively. The scientists found one sugar and a range of sugar-related compounds, all members of the larger class of chemicals called polyols. These sugar molecules are not the same kind you taste when you bite into a doughnut, but they are essential parts of cell membranes, DNA, RNA, and cellular energy sources. Scientists first found polyols in meteorites back in the early 1960s but couldn't be certain the sugars weren't traces of earthly microbes. This time, we know for sure that the polyols came from space.