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We report the first in situ observation of hollow organic globules in any extraterrestrial material using the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite. Data from analytical transmission electron microscopy, Raman and micro-Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy indicate that the globules consist of aliphatic and oxygenated functions. The hollow spherical morphologies are strikingly similar to the material produced by the laboratory simulation of ultraviolet photolysis of interstellar ice analogues and subsequent aqueous processing, suggesting that the organic globules in the Tagish Lake meteorite may be extremely primitive organic material that formed before or during the formation of the solar system. The FTIR organic signatures also show strong similarities to the membrane-like products formed from hydrothermal reaction of an OH-bearing amino acid in the presence of hydrous minerals. The survival of the structures in the Tagish Lake sample indicates that primitive meteorites must have delivered these structures to the early Earth as a possible precursor to life.
In the absence of any identified solid phase host (other than the original glass), boron has been assumed to accumulate in the fluid during the reaction of borosilicate glass waste forms with aqueous fluids. Using this assumption, it is possible to define a boron index which can be used to monitor the amount of glass that has been dissolved and to provide a worst-case measure of the degradation of the primary glass waste form. Several boron-containing silicate phases have been identified thus invalidating the assumption that boron does not precipitate. The effect is apparently small and the assumption that boron release is a direct measure of degree of alteration of borosilicate glass is still probably a good one.
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