Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology

Sandra Pizzarello, Lynda Williams, Jennifer Lehman, Gregory P. Holland, Jeffery Yarger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Carbonaceous chondrites are asteroidal meteorites that contain abundant organic materials. Given that meteorites and comets have reached the Earth since it formed, it has been proposed that the exogenous influx from these bodies provided the organic inventories necessary for the emergence of life. The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) have recently revealed a composition that is particularly enriched in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine, which could support this possibility. We have now analyzed the insoluble and the largest organic component of the CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 meteorite and found it to be of more primitive composition than in other meteorites and to release abundant free ammonia upon hydrothermal treatment. The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites' origin to cosmochemical regimes where ammonia was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4303-4306
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume108
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2011

Fingerprint

Exobiology
Meteoroids
Minor Planets
Ammonia
Prebiotics
Molecular Evolution
Alanine
Glycine
Amino Acids
Equipment and Supplies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology. / Pizzarello, Sandra; Williams, Lynda; Lehman, Jennifer; Holland, Gregory P.; Yarger, Jeffery.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 108, No. 11, 15.03.2011, p. 4303-4306.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{ebf03b9706034668a6e4b6793ce7f8a7,
title = "Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology",
abstract = "Carbonaceous chondrites are asteroidal meteorites that contain abundant organic materials. Given that meteorites and comets have reached the Earth since it formed, it has been proposed that the exogenous influx from these bodies provided the organic inventories necessary for the emergence of life. The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) have recently revealed a composition that is particularly enriched in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine, which could support this possibility. We have now analyzed the insoluble and the largest organic component of the CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 meteorite and found it to be of more primitive composition than in other meteorites and to release abundant free ammonia upon hydrothermal treatment. The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites' origin to cosmochemical regimes where ammonia was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution.",
author = "Sandra Pizzarello and Lynda Williams and Jennifer Lehman and Holland, {Gregory P.} and Jeffery Yarger",
year = "2011",
month = "3",
day = "15",
doi = "10.1073/pnas.1014961108",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "108",
pages = "4303--4306",
journal = "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America",
issn = "0027-8424",
number = "11",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology

AU - Pizzarello, Sandra

AU - Williams, Lynda

AU - Lehman, Jennifer

AU - Holland, Gregory P.

AU - Yarger, Jeffery

PY - 2011/3/15

Y1 - 2011/3/15

N2 - Carbonaceous chondrites are asteroidal meteorites that contain abundant organic materials. Given that meteorites and comets have reached the Earth since it formed, it has been proposed that the exogenous influx from these bodies provided the organic inventories necessary for the emergence of life. The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) have recently revealed a composition that is particularly enriched in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine, which could support this possibility. We have now analyzed the insoluble and the largest organic component of the CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 meteorite and found it to be of more primitive composition than in other meteorites and to release abundant free ammonia upon hydrothermal treatment. The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites' origin to cosmochemical regimes where ammonia was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution.

AB - Carbonaceous chondrites are asteroidal meteorites that contain abundant organic materials. Given that meteorites and comets have reached the Earth since it formed, it has been proposed that the exogenous influx from these bodies provided the organic inventories necessary for the emergence of life. The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) have recently revealed a composition that is particularly enriched in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine, which could support this possibility. We have now analyzed the insoluble and the largest organic component of the CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 meteorite and found it to be of more primitive composition than in other meteorites and to release abundant free ammonia upon hydrothermal treatment. The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites' origin to cosmochemical regimes where ammonia was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=79952714744&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=79952714744&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1073/pnas.1014961108

DO - 10.1073/pnas.1014961108

M3 - Article

VL - 108

SP - 4303

EP - 4306

JO - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

JF - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

SN - 0027-8424

IS - 11

ER -