A Model Study on the Dynamics of the Amino Acid Content in Micrometeoroids during Atmospheric Entry

Carlo Canepa
2020 Chemistry  
A model for the survival of the amino acid content in micrometeorites and its possible transformations upon atmospheric entry is described. Since any organic species released in the atmosphere at high altitudes would exhibit a limited lifetime with respect to the typical timescale for atmospheric mixing (due to the substantial radiation field of the early Sun), only the organic content inside the meteorites could have contributed to prebiotic chemistry. It is thus important to determine both
more » ... amino acid loss from meteorites, due to both degassing and chemical degradation, and the extent of the chemical transformation of amino acids subjected to the increased temperature due to friction with the atmosphere. According to the interplay between the potential energy barrier and the pre-exponential factor in rate coefficients, either diffusion or chemical processing might be the dominant process following the rising temperature upon atmospheric entry. The possibility of the elimination of water from glycine to form aminoketene, or CO2 to form methylamine, ultimately driven by gravitational energy, was examined along with the more conventional formation of a peptide bond between two glycine units to afford Gly–Gly. While retention, degassing, and decarboxylation are the fastest processes, each dominating in different ranges of the initial velocity and radius, the formation of either Gly–Gly from bimolecular water elimination or aminoketene from unimolecular water elimination appears to be negligible.
doi:10.3390/chemistry2040058 fatcat:rrvicp5lune7fdo26vu36qg54a