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organics in meteoritesThe variety of classes of organic compounds that occur in carbonaceous meteorites suggests a rich pre-planetary chemistry with possible connections to interstellar, solar nebular and parent body processes. Structural diversity prevails within all classes examined in detail. Among amino acids for instance, all possible isomers are found up to species containing 4-6 carbon atoms, with abundances decreasing with increasing molecular weight. Such diversity seems limited to those carbonaceous meteorites which show evidence of having been exposed to liquid water; meteorites lacking such evidence also show much lower abundances and less structural diversity in their organic contents. This apparent dependency on water suggests a role for cometary ices in the chemical evolution of organic compounds on parent bodies. Measurements of the stable isotope compositions of C, H, N and S in classes of compounds and at the individual compound level show strong deviations from average chondritic values. These deviations are difficult to explain by solar system or parent body processes, and precedents for some of these isotopic anomalies exist in interstellar (e.g., high D/H ratios) and circumstellar chemistry. Therefore, presolar origins for much if not all of the meteoritic organic compounds (or their precursors) is a distinct possibility. In contrast, evidence of solar nebular origins is either lacking or suspect. Results from molecular and isotopic analyses of meteoritic organics, from laboratory simulations and from a model of interstellar grain reactions will be used to flesh out the hypothesis that this material originated with interstellar chemistry, was distributed within the early solar system as cometary ices, and was subsequently altered on meteorite parent bodies to yield the observed compounds.
Document ID
20020041937
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Chang, Sherwood
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1996
Subject Category
Astrophysics
Meeting Information
Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences Conference
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 182-13-60
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.