Document Detail

Titan's primordial soup: formation of amino acids via low-temperature hydrolysis of tholins.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20446873     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Titan organic haze analogues, or "tholins," produce biomolecules when hydrolyzed at low temperature over long timescales. By using a combination of high-resolution mass spectroscopy and tandem mass spectrometry fragmentation techniques, four amino acids were identified in a tholin sample that had been hydrolyzed in a 13 wt % ammonia-water solution at 253 + or - 1 K and 293 + or - 1 K for 1 year. These four species have been assigned as the amino acids asparagine, aspartic acid, glutamine, and glutamic acid. This represents the first detection of biologically relevant molecules created under conditions thought to be similar to those found in impact melt pools and cryolavas on Titan, which are at a stage of chemical evolution not unlike the "primordial soup" of the early Earth. Future missions to Titan should therefore carry instrumentation capable of, but certainly not limited to, detecting amino acids and other prebiotic molecules on Titan's surface.
Catherine D Neish; Arpád Somogyi; Mark A Smith
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Astrobiology     Volume:  10     ISSN:  1557-8070     ISO Abbreviation:  Astrobiology     Publication Date:  2010 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-05-07     Completed Date:  2010-09-22     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101088083     Medline TA:  Astrobiology     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  337-47     Citation Subset:  IM    
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723-6099, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Amino Acids / chemical synthesis*
Cold Temperature*
Extraterrestrial Environment*
Mass Spectrometry
Molecular Weight
Organic Chemicals / chemistry*
Thymine / chemistry
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Amino Acids; 0/Organic Chemicals; 0/Protons; 65-71-4/Thymine

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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