Shock Modifications of Organic Compounds in Carbonaceous Chondrite Parent Bodies

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Shock Modifications of Organic Compounds in Carbonaceous Chondrite Parent Bodies

  • George W., Cooper
Publication Date
Jun 04, 1998
SETI Institute


Impacts among asteroidal objects would have altered or destroyed pre-existing organic matter in both targets and projectiles to a greater or lesser degree depending upon impact velocities. To begin filling a knowledge gap on the shock metamorphism of organic compounds, we are studying the effects of shock impacts on selected classes of organic compounds utilizing laboratory shock facilities. Our approach is to subject mixtures of organic compounds, embedded in the matrix of the Murchison meteorite, to simulated hypervelocity impacts by firing them into targets at various pressures. The mixtures are then analyzed to determine the amount of each compound that survives as well as to determine if new compounds are being synthesized. The initial compounds added to the matrix (with the exception of thiosulfate). The sulfonic acids were chosen in part because they are relatively abundant in Murchison, relatively stable, and because they and the phosphonic acids are the first well-characterized homologous series of organic sulfur and phosphorus compounds identified in an extraterrestrial material. Experimental procedures were more fully described in the original proposal. A 20 mm gun, with its barrel extending into a vacuum chamber (10(exp -2) torr), was used to launch the projectile containing the sample at approx. 1.6 km/sec (3,600 mi/hr) into the target material. Maximum pressure of impact depend on target/projectile materials. The target was sufficiently thin to assure minimum pressure decay over the total sample thickness.

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