Astrochemistry: May 2017

In the icy bodies around our solar system, radiation emitted from rocky cores could break up water molecules and support hydrogen-eating microbes. To address this cosmic possibility, a University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team modeled a natural water-cracking process called radiolysis

Complex organic molecules (COMs) have been identified in different environments in star- forming regions. Laboratory studies show that COMs form in the solid state, on icy grains, typically following a non-energetic (atom-addition) or energetic (UV-photon absorption) trigger. So far, such studies have been largely performed for single processes.

Potentially-habitable planets orbiting M-dwarfs are of intense astrobiological interest because they are the only rocky worlds accessible to biosignature search over the next 10+ years due to a confluence of observational effects.