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Life 2013, 3(4), 538-549; doi:10.3390/life3040538

Simulations of Prebiotic Chemistry under Post-Impact Conditions on Titan

School of the Environment, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
Research Platform on ExoLife, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstraße 17, Vienna 1180, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 November 2013 / Revised: 6 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
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The problem of how life began can be considered as a matter of basic chemistry. How did the molecules of life arise from non-biological chemistry? Stanley Miller’s famous experiment in 1953, in which he produced amino acids under simulated early Earth conditions, was a huge leap forward in our understanding of this problem. Our research first simulated early Earth conditions based on Miller’s experiment and we then repeated the experiment using Titan post-impact conditions. We simulated conditions that could have existed on Titan after an asteroid strike. Specifically, we simulated conditions after a potential strike in the subpolar regions of Titan that exhibit vast methane-ethane lakes. If the asteroid or comet was of sufficient size, it would also puncture the icy crust and bring up some of the subsurface liquid ammonia-water mixture. Since, O’Brian, Lorenz and Lunine showed that a liquid water-ammonia body could exist between about 102–104 years on Titan after an asteroid impact we modified our experimental conditions to include an ammonia-water mixture in the reaction medium. Here we report on the resulting amino acids found using the Titan post-impact conditions in a classical Miller experimental reaction set-up and how they differ from the simulated early Earth conditions.
Keywords: prebiotic chemistry; Miller-Urey; Titan; amino acids prebiotic chemistry; Miller-Urey; Titan; amino acids
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Turse, C.; Leitner, J.; Firneis, M.; Schulze-Makuch, D. Simulations of Prebiotic Chemistry under Post-Impact Conditions on Titan. Life 2013, 3, 538-549.

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