Extraterrestrial organic compounds in meteorites

Botta, O, Bada JL.  2002.  Extraterrestrial organic compounds in meteorites. Surveys in Geophysics. 23:411-467.


amino acid, astrobiology, carbonaceous antarctic, early solar-system, endogenous amino-acids, interplanetary dust particles, interstellar medium, isotope, isotopic composition, meteorites, micrometeorites, nitrogen-heterocyclic compounds, o1 hale-bopp, organic chemistry, oxygen, performance liquid-chromatography, polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons, solar system, tagish lake meteorite


Many organic compounds or their precursors found in meteorites originated in the interstellar or circumstellar medium and were later incorporated into planetesimals during the formation of the solar system. There they either survived intact or underwent further processing to synthesize secondary products on the meteorite parent body. The most distinct feature of CI and CM carbonaceous chondrites, two types of stony meteorites, is their high carbon content (up to 3% of weight), either in the form of carbonates or of organic compounds. The bulk of the organic carbon consists of an insoluble macromolecular material with a complex structure. Also present is a soluble organic fraction, which has been analyzed by several separation and analytical procedures. Low detection limits can be achieved by derivatization of the organic molecules with reagents that allow for analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy and high performance liquid chromatography. The CM meteorite Murchison has been found to contain more than 70 extraterrestrial amino acids and several other classes of compounds including carboxylic acids, hydroxy carboxylic acids, sulphonic and phosphonic acids, aliphatic, aromatic and polar hydrocarbons, fullerenes, heterocycles as well as carbonyl compounds, alcohols, amines and amides. The organic matter was found to be enriched in deuterium, and distinct organic compounds show isotopic enrichments of carbon and nitrogen relative to terrestrial matter.