Meteorites & Asteroids

Thermally Induced Chemistry of Meteoritic Complex Organic Molecules

By Keith Cowing
December 16, 2014
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Thermally Induced Chemistry of Meteoritic Complex Organic Molecules

Research over the past four decades has shown a rich variety of complex organic molecular content in some meteorites.

This current study is an attempt to gain a better insight into the thermal conditions experienced by these molecules inside meteorites during atmospheric entry. In particular, we wish to understand possible chemical processes that can occur during entry and that might have had an effect on complex organic or prebiotic species that were delivered in this way to the early Earth. A simulation was written in Fortran to model heating by the shock generated during entry and the subsequent thermal diffusion inside the body of a meteorite. Experimental data was used for the thermal parameters of several types of meteorites, including iron-nickel and several classes of chondrites.

A Sutton-Graves model of stagnation-point heating was used to calculate peak surface temperatures and an explicit difference formula was used to generate thermal diffusion profiles for both chondrites and iron-nickel type meteorites. Results from the simulation show pyrolytic temperature penetration to a depth of ca. 0.5 to 1 cm. Non-dissociative warming of meteorite interiors penetrates further to ca. 4 cm. These results support the findings that extraterrestrial delivery is a viable option for prebiotic molecular “seeding” of a planet.

Thermally Induced Chemistry of Meteoritic Complex Organic Molecules: A New Heat-Diffusion Model for the Atmospheric Entry of Meteorites

Christopher N. Shingledecker

(Submitted on 16 Dec 2014)

Comments: 4 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1412.5134 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1412.5134v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Christopher Shingledecker

[v1] Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:32:16 GMT (403kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻