Amino Acid Precursors from a Simulated Lower Atmosphere of Titan: Experiments of Cosmic Ray Energy Source with 13C- and 18O-Stable Isotope Probing Mass Spectrometry

Toshinori Taniuchi, Yoshinori Takano, Kensei Kobayashi

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    Abstract

    The organic haze of aerosols that shrouds the Saturnian moon Titan has previously been studied by both observations and laboratory simulation experiments. Here we report the abiotic formation of amino acid precursors in complex organic molecules during experimental simulation of the environment near Titan's surface with proton irradiation. Pyrolysis of the organic molecules formed in the simulated Titan atmosphere by proton irradiation at 600°C yielded compounds that contained HCN and NH3 (m/z = 27 and 17). These experimental results are consistent with the molecular information obtained by pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (pyrolysis GC/MS) of samples collected by the Huygens probe to Titan. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and three-dimensional atomic force microscopy (AFM) images of the irradiation products reveal nanometer-scale filaments and globules in complex amorphous structures (approximately 1000 Da). Isotope probing experiments by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) show that oxygen atoms were incorporated into the racemic amino acids by hydrolysis of 18O-labeled water. We suggest that the amino acid precursors possibly formed after water hydrolysis, as suggested in a previous observational study (C. A. Griffith, T. Owen, T. R. Geballe, J. Rayner, and P. Rannou, Science, 2003, 300, 628). We propose that cosmic rays are a significant and effective energy source for producing complex organics and amino acid precursors in Titan's atmospheric haze. © The Japan society for analytical Chemistry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)777-785
    Number of pages9
    JournalAnalytical Sciences
    Volume29
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2013 Sep 17

    Fingerprint

    Saturn
    Atmosphere
    Amino Acids
    Protons
    Hydrolysis
    Water
    Atomic Force Microscopy
    Aerosols
    Isotopes
    Electron Scanning Microscopy
    Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
    Observational Study
    Mass Spectrometry
    Lasers
    Oxygen

    Keywords

    • C- and O-stable isotope probing
    • Amino acid precursors
    • Cosmic ray energy source
    • Hydrolysis process
    • Titan atmosphere

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Analytical Chemistry

    Cite this

    Amino Acid Precursors from a Simulated Lower Atmosphere of Titan : Experiments of Cosmic Ray Energy Source with 13C- and 18O-Stable Isotope Probing Mass Spectrometry. / Taniuchi, Toshinori; Takano, Yoshinori; Kobayashi, Kensei.

    In: Analytical Sciences, Vol. 29, No. 8, 17.09.2013, p. 777-785.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Taniuchi, Toshinori; Takano, Yoshinori; Kobayashi, Kensei / Amino Acid Precursors from a Simulated Lower Atmosphere of Titan : Experiments of Cosmic Ray Energy Source with 13C- and 18O-Stable Isotope Probing Mass Spectrometry.

    In: Analytical Sciences, Vol. 29, No. 8, 17.09.2013, p. 777-785.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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