Carbon-containing meteorites provide a natural sample of the extraterrestrial organic chemistry that occurred in the solar system ahead of life's origin on the Earth. Analyses of 40 years have shown the organic content of these meteorites to be materials as diverse as kerogen-like macromolecules and simpler soluble compounds such as amino acids and polyols. Many meteoritic molecules have identical counterpart in the biosphere and, in a primitive group of meteorites, represent the majority of their carbon. Most of the compounds in meteorites have isotopic compositions that date their formation to presolar environments and reveal a long and active cosmochemical evolution of the biogenic elements. Whether this evolution resumed on the Earth to foster biogenesis after exogenous delivery of meteoritic and cometary materials is not known, yet, the selective abundance of biomolecule precursors evident in some cosmic environments and the unique L-asymmetry of some meteoritic amino acids are suggestive of their possible contribution to terrestrial molecular evolution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)