2002 Annual Science Report

NASA Ames Research Center Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Chemical Building Blocks

Project Summary
4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Biogenic compound formation has been clearly demonstrated in cosmic ices. This year we have shown that true membrane forming molecules have formed under simulated space conditions AND that the molecules formed produce true vesicles with penetrable membrane walls. We have also demonstrated that the most common amino acids used in living systems are also produced under deep space conditions. We have also expanded the types of compounds that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can produce when included in these simulations. Our publication on producing amino acids under harsh IS conditions generated considerable public response.

  • PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:
  • PROJECT MEMBERS:
    Louis Allamandola
    Co-Investigator

    David Deamer
    Collaborator

    Richard Zare
    Collaborator

    Jason Dworkin
    Postdoc

    Max Bernstein
    Research Staff

    Scott Sandford
    Research Staff

  • RELATED OBJECTIVES:
    Objective 1.0
    Determine whether the atmosphere of the early Earth, hydrothermal systems or exogenous matter were significant sources of organic matter.

    Objective 2.0
    Develop and test plausible pathways by which ancient counterparts of membrane systems, proteins and nucleic acids were synthesized from simpler precursors and assembled into protocells.

    Objective 11.0
    Determine (theoretically and empirically) the ultimate outcome of the planet-forming process around other stars, especially the habitable ones.

    Objective 13.0
    Define an array of astronomically detectable spectroscopic features that indicate habitable conditions and/or the presence of life on an extrasolar planet.