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Title: Organic matter in extraterrestrial water-bearing salt crystals

Direct evidence of complex prebiotic chemistry from a water-rich world in the outer solar system is provided by the 4.5-billion-year-old halite crystals hosted in the Zag and Monahans (1998) meteorites. This study offers the first comprehensive organic analysis of the soluble and insoluble organic compounds found in the millimeter-sized halite crystals containing brine inclusions and sheds light on the nature and activity of aqueous fluids on a primitive parent body. Associated with these trapped brines are organic compounds exhibiting wide chemical variations representing organic precursors, intermediates, and reaction products that make up life’s precursor molecules such as amino acids. The organic compounds also contain a mixture of C-, O-, and N-bearing macromolecular carbon materials exhibiting a wide range of structural order, as well as aromatic, ketone, imine, and/or imidazole compounds. The enrichment in 15N is comparable to the organic matter in pristine Renazzo-type carbonaceous chondrites, which reflects the sources of interstellar 15N, such as ammonia and amino acids. The amino acid content of the Zag halite deviates from the meteorite matrix, supporting an exogenic origin of the halite, and therefore, the Zag meteorite contains organics synthesized on two distinct parent bodies. Lastly, our study suggests that the asteroidal parent bodymore » where the halite precipitated, potentially asteroid 1 Ceres, shows evidence for a complex combination of biologically and prebiologically relevant molecules.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [1] ; ORCiD logo [3] ; ORCiD logo [4] ; ORCiD logo [5] ;  [6] ; ORCiD logo [7] ;  [8] ; ORCiD logo [9] ; ORCiD logo [10] ; ORCiD logo [10]
  1. NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX (United States). Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science
  2. Yokohama National Univ., Hodogayaku, Yokohama (Japan). Faculty of Engineering
  3. Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Otsu, Nankoku, Kochi (Japan). Kochi Inst. for Core Sample Research
  4. Carnegie Inst. of Washington, Washington, DC (United States). Geophysical Lab.
  5. NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX (United States)
  6. Kyoto Univ. (Japan). Graduate School of Science
  7. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Advanced Light Source (ALS)
  8. Hiroshima Univ., Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima (Japan). Dept. of Earth and Planetary Systems Science
  9. Univ. of Tokyo, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku (Japan). Dept. of Earth and Planetary Science
  10. Inst. of Materials Structure Science, High-Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), Tsukuba, Ibaraki (Japan); Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), Tsukuba (Japan). Dept. of Materials Structure Science
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-05CH11231; AB261011; AB271007; JP15K17794; AB271015; AB281004
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science Advances
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 4; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2375-2548
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC); National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS); National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: