- Outreach and Impact
- My Science
The analysis of organic molecules found in meteorites and other astromaterials has provided invaluable authentic samples with which we can study prebiotic chemistry. The discovery of biologically important classes of organic molecules including amino acids, nucleobases, and sugar acids provides concrete evidence of the types and diversity of molecules that were likely around during the origins of life on Earth. Our goal is to understand how these prebiotic molecules could have evolved under conditions relevant to early Earth (or other terrestrial bodies) and the role they could have played in the origins of life. This is accomplished through the study of meteorite organics and laboratory experiments simulating relevant chemical and physical processes. Research is carried out in the Soluble Organics in Astomaterials Laboratory (SOAL) within the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The SOAL contains a variety of gas and liquid-chromatography instrumentation with mass spectrometry, FID, fluorescence and absorbance detection. Also within ARES are a number of instruments for geochemical analysis that are also available for use.