a1 Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI 5314, USA e-mail: email@example.com
Most chemical reactions on asteroids, from which meteors and meteorites originate, are hypothesized to occur primarily in the solid mixtures. Some secondary chemical reactions may have occurred during the periods of the aqueous alteration of the asteroids. A myriad of organic compounds have been isolated from the meteorites, but the chemical conditions during which they were formed are only partially elucidated. In this paper, we propose that numerous meteoritic organic compounds were formed by the solventless and solid-state reactions that were only recently explored in conjunction with the green chemistry. A typical solventless approach exploits the phenomenon of the mixed melting points. As the solid materials are mixed together, the melting point of the mixture becomes lower than the melting points of its individual components. In some cases, the entire mixture may melt upon mixing. These reactions could then occur in a melted state. In the traditional solid-state reactions, the solids are mixed together, which allows for the intimate contact of the reactants, but the reaction occurs without melting. We have shown various examples of the known solventless and solid-state reactions that are particularly relevant to the meteoritic chemistry. We have also placed them in a prebiotic context and evaluated them for their astrobiological significance.
(Received August 16 2011)
(Accepted October 21 2011)
(Online publication November 18 2011)