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Adv Space Res. 1984;4(12):69-74.

The chemical conditions on the parent body of the Murchison meteorite: some conclusions based on amino, hydroxy and dicarboxylic acids.

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole, MA 92543, USA.
U CA San Diego, La Jolla, Dept Chem


Amino and hydroxy acids have been identified in the Murchison meteorite. Their presence is consistent with a synthetic pathway involving aldehydes, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia in an aqueous environment (Strecker-cyanohydrin synthesis). From the various equilibrium and rate constants involved in this synthesis, four independent estimates of the ammonium ion concentrations on the parent body at the time of compound synthesis are obtained; all values are about 2 x 10(-3) M. Succinic acid and beta-alanine have also been detected in the Murchison meteorite. Their presence is consistent with a synthesis from acrylonitrile, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. Using the equilibrium and rate constants for this synthetic pathway, and the succinic acid/beta-alanine ratio measured in the Murchison meteorite, an estimate of the hydrogen cyanide concentration of 10(-3) to 10(-2) M is obtained. Since hydrogen cyanide hydrolyzes relatively rapidly in an aqueous environment (t1/2 < 10(4) yrs) this high concentration implies a period of synthesis of organic compounds as short as 10(4) years on the Murchison meteorite parent body.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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