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Proceedings Paper

Self-assembly and morphogenesis in prebiotic systems, extraterrestrial and terrestrial
Author(s): Bettina Heinz; Hans D. Pflug
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Paper Abstract

Recent findings strongly suggest that a well developed biosphere was present on Earth 3800 million years ago. Consequently life's origin must be considerably older. The remaining time span of Earth history appears to be too short for all the processes necessary for the evolution from a simple compound to a perfect organism. An alternative explanation implies that the prebiotic products required for the formation of life are of extraterrestrial origin and were imported from space with the early planetesimal in-fall that had struck the Earth prior to 3800 million years. Recent observations have detected a great variety of organic molecules in the interstellar clouds of our galaxy. Several molecules hitherto identified can be considered as precursors of the most biochemical compounds and structural components present in living systems. That prebiotic chemistry has been brought from interstellar space to Earth is an intriguing possibility. Cosmic dust can reach the Earth gently without being destroyed. Open to question is the condition in which the organics came down: were they at a prebiotic stage or in a biotic condition as originally postulated by Svante Arrhenius.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 1998
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 3441, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology, (6 July 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.319852
Show Author Affiliations
Bettina Heinz, California State Univ./San Marcos and Palomar College San Marcos (United States)
Hans D. Pflug, Justus-Liebig-Univ. (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3441:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology
Richard B. Hoover, Editor(s)

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