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Astrochemistry: December 2018


Chondrites are undifferentiated sediments of material left over from the earliest solar system and are widely considered as representatives of the unprocessed building blocks of the terrestrial planets.

Using the infrared satellite AKARI, a Japanese research team has detected the existence of water in the form of hydrated minerals in a number of asteroids for the first time.

New research suggests that the sugar molecule that puts the "D" in DNA -- 2-deoxyribose -- could exist in the far reaches of space. A team of NASA astrophysicists were able to create DNA's sugar in laboratory conditions that mimic interstellar space.

Photochemistry induced by stellar UV flux should produce haze particles in exoplanet atmospheres. Recent observations indicate that haze and/or cloud layers exist in the atmospheres of exoplanets.

In their search for life in solar systems near and far, researchers have often accepted the presence of oxygen in a planet's atmosphere as the surest sign that life may be present there. A new Johns Hopkins study, however, recommends a reconsideration of that rule of thumb.

Atmospheric nitrogen may be a necessary ingredient for the habitability of a planet since its presence helps to prevent water loss from a planet. The present day nitrogen isotopic ratio, 15N/14N, in the Earth's atmosphere is a combination of the primitive Earth's ratio and the ratio that might have been delivered in comets and asteroids.

The origin of the reservoirs of water on Earth is debated. The Earth's crust may contain at least three times more water than the oceans.

By developing a new method for measuring isotopic ratios of water and carbon dioxide remotely, scientists have found that the water in Saturn's rings and satellites is unexpectedly like water on the Earth, except on Saturn's moon Phoebe, where the water is more unusual than on any other object so far studied in the solar system.