2 items with the tag “carbonaceous chondrite

  • Analysis of Prebiotic Organic Compounds in Astrobiologically Relevant Samples
    NAI 2013 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Annual Report

    The Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory (AAL) of the GCA is dedicated to the study of organic compounds derived from past and future sample return missions, meteorites, lab simulations of Mars, interstellar, proto-planetary, and cometary ices and grains, and instrument development. This year, we analyzed the amino acid and nucleobase content of a martian meteorite; our findings suggested the presence of extraterrestrial amino acids in that meteorite. We studied irradiated benzene ices to determine that this type of radiation chemistry may have produced some of the complex aromatics found in meteorites. We identified amino acids for the first time in high-metal carbonaceous chondrite classes, supporting the idea of multiple formation mechanisms for these astrobiologically relevant compounds. We supported development of a liquid chromato-graphmass spectrometer aimed at in situ analyses of amino acids and chirality on airless bodies including asteroids and the outer planet’s icy moons Enceladus and Europa. We hosted a graduate student, an undergraduate, and a high-school intern, and participated in numerous public outreach and education events. We continued our participation in the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission and provided support for the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity.

  • The Nature and Timing of Aqueous Alteration in Ordinary and Carbonaceous Chondrites
    NAI 2013 University of Hawaii, Manoa Annual Report

    Water plays a key role in the search for life and habitable planets outside of our Solar System. However, a fundamental question remains unanswered: what is the origin of water on Earth and the terrestrial planets? Our research addresses this question by looking towards chondrites, the building blocks of the Solar System. Chondritic meteorites were assembled within a few million years after the birth of the Sun, and preserve a record of the earliest Solar System processes. We are working to constrain the origin of water in chondritic asteroids, to understand the timescales and conditions of aqueous alteration on chondritic parent bodies, and the effects of aqueous alteration on synthesis and modification of organic matter in chondrites, and to explore how water affected the geologic evolution of primitive material. This work has important implications for the amount of water accreted or delivered to the inner Solar System planets, and the synthesis and delivery of organic matter necessary for life on Earth.