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2006 Annual Science Report

University of Arizona Reporting  |  JUL 2005 – JUN 2006

Executive Summary

The past year has seen a number of activities coming to fruition. First, for module 1 (the Building Blocks of Life) the major construction item in our budget, the Microwave Fourier Transform Spectrometer for determination of mm wave spectra of complex organic molecules is complete and working. Measurements have been made of acetol and lactonitrile. Associated with this, surveys for molecules in a dense molecular cloud have shown the absence of dihydroxyacetone, hydroxyacetone, lactonitrile, lactic acid, formyl cyanide, and methylene cyclopropene at the confusion limit. On the other hand, glycoaldehyde and acetamide are definitely present, and acetamide explains a number of formerly unidentified lines. There has been a survey of formamide in dense clouds. Observations of CCH in planetary nebulae showed that some C-C bonds survive the strong UV radiation in this phase. We have also explored formaldehyde’s origin in comets. Over 1000 hours of ... Continue reading.

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Project Reports

  • Module 3: Nature of Planetary Systems

    Direct detection for extrasolar planets is fast becoming a reality, and LAPLACE is well-poised to be the forefront of this new area of research. Using multiple techniques we are now in the process of carrying out surveys for young planets as well as developing new techniques which will push our sensitivity to older planets around more nearby stars.

  • Module 4: Strengthening the Astrobiology Community

    LAPLACE continues to realize its goals of strengthen the astrobiology community through innovative interdisciplinary graduate education

  • Module 1: The Building Blocks of Life

    This module is concerned with examining the contribution of interstellar chemistry to the biochemistry that led to living systems on Earth. One focus of this investigation is the simple sugar ribose and its precursors, starting with formaldehyde, but other possible pre-biotic species are being investigated as well

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 3.1 3.2 4.3
  • Module 2: Formation and Evolution of Habitable Worlds

    This module uses observations of the gas and dust in (a) planet-forming accretion disks surrounding young stars and (b) debris disks surrounding more mature stars to understand key steps and timescales in the formation of planetary systems and their evolution, and to constrain outcome planetary system architectures