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Abiotic Chemistry, Atmospheric Hazes, Titan, and the Early Earth

Presenter: Melissa Trainer, University of Colorado, Boulder
When: April 7, 2009 2:30PM PDT

There are a myriad of uncertainties involved in the question of how life first began on Earth, including understanding what the early environment was like and how organic materials came to be present.  This talk will review some possible modes for the delivery of organic molecules of interest to the Early Earth.  In particular, discussion will focus on the atmospheric chemical synthesis that may have been present.  Photochemistry of trace atmospheric gases may have led to a rich mixture of organics, many of which may have prebiotic functionalities.  Saturn’s moon Titan provides an example of a potential view for the Early Earth — as a hazy world raining organic particles down onto the surface.  Recent laboratory work has explored the properties of organic particles formed in simulated Early Earth atmospheres, and the implications of such a haze layer for the radiation, climate, and chemical environment of the Early Earth will be discussed.

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