Dr. Steven Charnley

December 20, 2006

“Chemical Models of Nebular Processes”


This agreement is for Dr. Charnley’s participation as Co-Investigator in one of the NASA Astrobiology Institute member teams. It proposes to investigate the origin and evolution of organic compounds in planetary systems, and their delivery to young planets. It seeks to better understand the organic compounds generated and destroyed in the interstellar and proto-planetary environments, through observational, theoretical and laboratory work. It will examine the potential for, and limitations to, delivery of exogenous pre-biotic organics to planets, examining factors that enhance or restrict this potential.It will, for the first time, investigate the effect of astrophysical X-rays on the evolution of exogenous organic materials in terrestrial biogenesis. This research will significantly improve understanding of the nature of organics in other planetary systems, the processes affecting them, and the potential for delivering pre-biotic organic compounds to planets. The goal of this theoretical work is focused on determining the chemical composition of icy bodies and establishing their potential for delivering pre-biotic organic materials and water to the young Earth and other planets. This will be addressed through detailed chemical modeling, coupled with physical evolution, of the protosolar nebula.