Covering: 1950s to the present day
The carbonaceous chondrite meteorites are fragments of asteroids that have remained relatively unprocessed since the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. These carbon-rich objects contain a variety of extraterrestrial organic molecules that constitute a record of chemical evolution prior to the origin of life. Compound classes include aliphatic hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons, amino acids, carboxylic acids, sulfonic acids, phosphonic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, sugars, amines, amides, nitrogen heterocycles, sulfur heterocycles and a relatively abundant high molecular weight macromolecular material. Structural and stable isotopic characteristics suggest that a number of environments may have contributed to the organic inventory, including interstellar space, the solar nebula and the asteroidal meteorite parent body. This review covers work published between 1950 and the present day and cites 193 references.