As the solar system formed, it inherited and perpetuated a rich organic chemistry, the molecular products of which are preserved in ancient extraterrestrial objects such as carbonaceous chondrites. These organic-rich meteorites provide a valuable and tangible record of the chemical steps taken towards the origin of life in the early solar system. Chondritic organic matter is present in the inorganic meteorite matrix which, in the CM and CI chondrites, contains evidence of alteration by liquid water on the parent asteroid. An unanswered and fundamental question is to what extent did the organic matter and inorganic products of aqueous alteration interact or display interdependence? We have used an organic labelling technique to reveal that the meteoritic organic matter is strongly associated with clay minerals. This association suggests that clay minerals may have had an important trapping and possibly catalytic role in chemical evolution in the early solar system prior to the origin of life on the early Earth
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