The sources, distributions, and transformation of organic compounds in the solar system are active study areas as a means to provide information about the evolution of the solar system and the possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe. There are many organic synthesis processes, however, and ambiguity surrounds the relative effectiveness of these processes in explaining the distribution of organic compounds in the solar system. As a consequence, NASA directed the NRC to determine what processes account for the reduced carbon compounds found throughout the solar system and to examine how planetary exploration can advance understanding of this central issue. This report presents a discussion of the chemistry of carbon; an analysis of the formation, modification, and preservation of organic compounds in the solar system; and an assessment of research opportunities and strategies for enhancing our understanding of organic material in the solar system.
National Research Council. Exploring Organic Environments in the Solar System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.
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