Rate Measurements of the Hydrolysis of Complex Organic Macromolecules in Cold Aqueous Solutions: Implications for Prebiotic Chemistry on the Early Ear


Organic macromolecules ("complex tholins") were synthesized from a 0.95 N2 / 0.05 CH4 atmosphere in a high-voltage AC flow discharge reactor. When placed in liquid water, specific water soluble compounds in the macromolecules demonstrated Arrhenius type first order kinetics between 273 and 313 K and produced oxygenated organic species with activation energies in the range of 60 +/- 10 kJ mol 1. These reactions displayed half lives between 0.3 and 17 days at 273 K. Oxygen incorporation into such materials--a necessary step toward the formation of biological molecules--is therefore fast compared to processes that occur on geologic timescales, which include the freezing of impact melt pools and possible cryovolcanic sites on Saturn's organic-rich moon Titan. Astrobiology 8, 273-287.

Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 273-288.


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