The adsorption of simple organic compounds onto minerals that are known to occur in the early solar nebula such as olivine, spinel and water-ice, is examined using first-principles density functional theory. The calculations show that electron-rich organics and organics containing cyanide, amine and carboxylic functional groups can strongly bind to low-index surfaces of olivine and spinel. Based on the surface coverage as obtained from these calculations, it can be inferred that an estimated amount of 1013 kg of organics could have been delivered to early Earth via direct adsorption mechanisms, thereby providing an endogenous source of planetary organics. In addition, adsorption of organic compounds on magnesite, a carbonate phase believed to have formed via aqueous processes on asteroidal bodies, is also studied. The adsorption behavior of the organics is observed to be similar in both cases, i.e., for minerals that formed during the earliest stages of nebular evolution through condensation (spinel and olivine) or other processes and for those that formed via hydration processes on asteroidal bodies (magnesite). These results suggest that direct incorporation via adsorption is an important delivery mechanism of organics to both asteroidal bodies and terrestrial planets.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science