Stability of Aspartic Acid at 77°K under Gamma Radiation in a Comet Cores Simulation: Implications for Chemical Evolution Studies
The synthesis of organic matter in a simulated primitive environment (terrestrial or extraterrestrial) has been widely studied. The stability of organic matter of biological significance, exposed to energy fields in primitive conditions, is equally important in the context of chemical evolution. We present a detailed analysis of the stability of prebiotic organic molecules under the effect of ionizing radiation at a low temperature, simulating a comet core. The laboratory simulation consists of icy phases of prototype organic matter and a mineral in a physical mixture. This chemical system was irradiated with gamma radiation at 77°K. The icy phases are methanol, formic acid, and aspartic acid in aqueous solution, in the presence of sodium montmorillonite as silicates surface.Our results show the stability of aspartic acid in this comet core simulation. We have been identified some radiolytic products of this mixture: ethylene glycol, glycolaldehyde, formamide, alanine, glycine and succinic acid. The products were identified by Gas Chromatography (GC) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography-Electrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS). The protection role of the clay in the radiolysis of aspartic acid was observed in this mixture. This result may be due to an energy transfer from the clay. At pH=4, aspartic acid is adsorbed onto the clay at the interlayer channel as is shown in the X-ray diffractograms (XRD).
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