Simulations of Prebiotic Chemistry under Post-Impact Conditions on Titan
Received: 4 November 2013 / Revised: 6 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
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The problem of how life began can be considered as a matter of basic chemistry. How did the molecules of life arise from non-biological chemistry? Stanley Miller’s famous experiment in 1953, in which he produced amino acids under simulated early Earth conditions, was
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The problem of how life began can be considered as a matter of basic chemistry. How did the molecules of life arise from non-biological chemistry? Stanley Miller’s famous experiment in 1953, in which he produced amino acids under simulated early Earth conditions, was a huge leap forward in our understanding of this problem. Our research first simulated early Earth conditions based on Miller’s experiment and we then repeated the experiment using Titan post-impact conditions. We simulated conditions that could have existed on Titan after an asteroid strike. Specifically, we simulated conditions after a potential strike in the subpolar regions of Titan that exhibit vast methane-ethane lakes. If the asteroid or comet was of sufficient size, it would also puncture the icy crust and bring up some of the subsurface liquid ammonia-water mixture. Since, O’Brian, Lorenz and Lunine showed that a liquid water-ammonia body could exist between about 102
years on Titan after an asteroid impact we modified our experimental conditions to include an ammonia-water mixture in the reaction medium. Here we report on the resulting amino acids found using the Titan post-impact conditions in a classical Miller experimental reaction set-up and how they differ from the simulated early Earth conditions.