Ices and Organic Molecules in Space

Grant #: NNX10AQ70A
Senior Scientist: rmastrapa

The purpose of our proposed research is to investigate the formation and distribution of ices and organic molecules in space. Since tons of organic molecules come to Earth every day from space, and the flux of material may have been a million times more on the prebiotic Earth, such molecules may have contributed to the origin of life on Earth.  By extension, this exogenous delivery process may be generally applicable to the development of life on the planets of other stellar systems, and thus is of fundamental importance to astrobiology (and the SETI Institute).  This program focuses on ice experiments for comparison to interstellar and Solar System objects, meteoritic organics, and interstellar dust particles (IDPs).  We also are actively pursuing related observational and theoretical projects through collaborations with other scientists at NASA, universities, and non-profits.