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Rehder D. Chemistry in Space. From Interstellar Matter to the Origin of Life

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Rehder D. Chemistry in Space. From Interstellar Matter to the Origin of Life
Wiley, 2010. — 304 p.
On 27th December 1984, a team of meteorite hunters, funded by the National Science Foundation, picked up a rock of 1.93 kg in an Antarctic area known as Alan Hills. Since it was the fi rst one to be collected in 1984, it was labeled ALH84001, AL an H ills 19 84 no. 00 1 . Soon it became evident that this meteorite originated from our neighbor planet Mars – a rock that formed 4.1 billion years ago and was blasted off the red planet ’ s crust 15 million years ago by an impacting planetesimal. After roaming about in the Solar System for most of its time, this rock entered into the irresistible force of Earth ’ s attraction, where it landed 13 thousand years ago, in Antarctica and hence in an area where it was protected, at least in part, from weathering. Structural elements detected in this Martian meteorite, considered to represent biomarkers, sparked off a controversial debate on the possibility of early microbial life on our neighbor planet about 4 billion years ago, and shipping of Martian life forms to Earth, a debate which became reignited by recent reinvestigations of the meteoritic inclusions.
Other meteorites, originating from objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, have brought amino acids and nucleobases to Earth, among these amino acids which are essential for terrestrial life forms. Does this hint toward an extraterrestrial origin of at least part of the building blocks necessary for terrestrial life? And if yes – how could amino acids, which are rather complex molecules, have been synthesized and survived under conditions prevailing in space?
Introduction and Technical Notes
Origin and Development of the Universe
The Evolution of Stars
The Interstellar Medium
The Solar System
Exoplanets
The Origin of Life
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