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Orig Life Evol Biosph. 1995 Oct;25(5):457-93.

Dust in the Universe: implications for terrestrial prebiotic chemistry.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Química de Plasmas y Estudios Planetarios, Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.


In the present review we analyze the available literature on the distribution of dust in the Universe, methods of its observation and determination of the chemical composition, and the roles for terrestrial prebiotic chemistry. The most plausible natural sources of dust on the Earth in the prebiotic era are sedimentation of interplanetary dust, meteoritic and cometary impacts, volcanic eruptions, and soil microparticulates; the interplanetary medium being among the most powerful supplier of the dust matter. Two fundamental roles of dust particles for the origins of life are considered: (1) catalytic formation of prebiotic compounds; and (2) delivery of organic matter to the Earth by space dust particles. Due to the fact that there is only approximate information on the chemical composition and properties of interstellar, circumstellar, and major part of interplanetary dust, even the simulating experiments are difficult to perform. Until these gaps are filled, it seems reasonable to focus efforts of the scientists dealing with dust-driven catalytic formation of prebiotically important compounds on the volcanic and meteoritic/cometary impact environments.

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