Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, July 15-20, 2013
Nature\'s Starships: Amino Acid Synthesis, Frequency, and Delivery to Earth via Meteorites
Cobb, Alyssa (Origins Institute and Dpt. Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University)
Pudritz, Ralph (Origins Institute and Dpt. Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University)
Understanding the origin of organic molecules on Earth is vital to our understanding of the origins of life. One proposed mechanism for the introduction of organic material to our planet is via meteorite impacts. Meteoritic parent bodies contain organic material and water ice, which, given radionuclide decay in their interiors, cause the ice to melt and the parent bodies to undergo a process called aqueous alteration. An example of this internal chemistry is Strecker synthesis, a process resulting in the production of various amino acids. Our work summarizes recent discoveries regarding amino acid synthesis and concentration data. We present the amino acid concentrations collated from a variety of meteorites (~20) covering a range of meteorite classes. We can use the dependence of amino acid frequency on variables such as temperature and pressure to model Strecker synthesis inside a theoretical parent body. Our modeling software takes a set of chemical species and outputs their relative frequencies based on a minimization of their Gibbs free energies. The goal of this work is to predict and quantify the presence of amino acids on a foreign landscape using thermodynamic principles.
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