2002 Annual Science Report
NASA Ames Research Center Reporting | JUL 2001 – JUN 2002
Chemical Building Blocks
Biogenic compound formation has been clearly demonstrated in cosmic ices. This year we have shown that true membrane forming molecules have formed under simulated space conditions AND that the molecules formed produce true vesicles with penetrable membrane walls. We have also demonstrated that the most common amino acids used in living systems are also produced under deep space conditions. We have also expanded the types of compounds that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can produce when included in these simulations. Our publication on producing amino acids under harsh IS conditions generated considerable public response.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Louis Allamandola
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 1.0
Determine whether the atmosphere of the early Earth, hydrothermal systems or exogenous matter were significant sources of organic matter.
Develop and test plausible pathways by which ancient counterparts of membrane systems, proteins and nucleic acids were synthesized from simpler precursors and assembled into protocells.
Determine (theoretically and empirically) the ultimate outcome of the planet-forming process around other stars, especially the habitable ones.
Define an array of astronomically detectable spectroscopic features that indicate habitable conditions and/or the presence of life on an extrasolar planet.