Wednesday, September 11, 2013

List of Organic Compounds Found in Sutter's Mill Meteorite

A paper by Pizzarello et al using NMR and mass spec of material extracted from the meteorites has shown many new compounds. I'm always frustrated when papers look at chemistry of extraterrestrial samples and doesn't use basic organic techniques (like NMR) so I was very happy to read this one. Of note, the extraction method used by this team is a new one and more closely resembles conditions on early Earth. The excitement about this paper is that it brings us closer to supporting a panspermia model for the origin of life on Earth. It also supports the idea that meteors (and comets) might actually be harboring some kind of active chemistry - and if we're going to look for von Neumann probes or indeed any replicator chemistry, we should start with the low gravity bodies right here in our solar system. Some of the compounds they found are below:

Pizzarello S, Daviodski S, Hollanda G, Williams L. Processing of meteoritic organic materials as a possible analog of early molecular evolution in planetary environments. Published online before print September 9, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1309113110.

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