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Comet Pond II: Synergistic Intersection of Concentrated Extraterrestrial Materials and Planetary Environments to Form Procreative Darwinian Ponds

1
Research Branch, Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO 80201, USA
2
Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin–Parkside, Kenosha, WI 53141, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 24 April 2018 / Accepted: 2 May 2018 / Published: 11 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Meteorites and the Origin of Life)
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Abstract

In the “comet pond” model, a rare combination of circumstances enables the entry and landing of pristine organic material onto a planetary surface with the creation of a pond by a soft impact and melting of entrained ices. Formation of the constituents of the comet in the cold interstellar medium and our circumstellar disk results in multiple constituents at disequilibrium which undergo rapid chemical reactions in the warmer, liquid environment. The planetary surface also provides minerals and atmospheric gases which chemically interact with the pond’s organic- and trace-element-rich constituents. Pond physical morphology and the heterogeneities imposed by gravitational forces (bottom sludge; surface scum) and weather result in a highly heterogeneous variety of macro- and microenvironments. Wet/dry, freeze/thaw, and natural chromatography processes further promote certain reaction sequences. Evaporation concentrates organics less volatile than water. Freezing concentrates all soluble organics into a residual liquid phase, including CH3OH, HCN, etc. The pond’s evolutionary processes culminate in the creation of a Macrobiont with the metabolically equivalent capabilities of energy transduction and replication of RNA (or its progenitor informational macromolecule), from which smaller organisms can emerge. Planet-wide dispersal of microorganisms is achieved through wind transport, groundwater, and/or spillover from the pond into surface hydrologic networks. View Full-Text
Keywords: origin of life; comets; comet pond; prebiotic synthesis; extraterrestrial organics; freeze/thaw; wet/dry; Darwinian pond origin of life; comets; comet pond; prebiotic synthesis; extraterrestrial organics; freeze/thaw; wet/dry; Darwinian pond
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Clark, B.C.; Kolb, V.M. Comet Pond II: Synergistic Intersection of Concentrated Extraterrestrial Materials and Planetary Environments to Form Procreative Darwinian Ponds. Life 2018, 8, 12.

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