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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 24;109(30):11949-54. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1204865109. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Large enantiomeric excesses in primitive meteorites and the diverse effects of water in cosmochemical evolution.

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  • 1Arizona State University, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Tempe, AZ 85287-1604, USA.


Carbonaceous chondrites are meteoritic fragments of asteroids that avoided the geological reprocessing of larger planets and allow laboratory probing of early solar-nebula materials. Among these, Renazzo-type (CR) chondrites found in Antarctica appear remarkably pristine and are distinguished by abundant organic materials and water-soluble molecules such as amino acids and ammonia. We present a comprehensive analysis of the organic composition of selected CR meteorites of different petrographic classification and compare compounds' abundance and distribution as they may relate to asteroidal aqueous processing and concomitant evolution of the mineral phases. We found that several CR compounds such as amino acids and sugar alcohols are fully represented in stones with no or minimal water exposure indicating a formation that, if solar, preceded parent body processes. The most pristine CRs also revealed natal enantiomeric excesses (ee) of up to 60%, much larger than ever recorded. However, aqueous alteration appears to affect CR soluble organic composition and abundances, in particular some diastereomeric amino acids may gauge its extent by the consequent racemization of their ee.

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