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SUIRFRESIDE : a novel experiment to study surface chemistry under interstellar and protostellar conditions

Fraser, H J and van Dishoeck, E F (2004) SUIRFRESIDE : a novel experiment to study surface chemistry under interstellar and protostellar conditions. In: Space life sciences. Advances in Space Research . PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, Kidlington, pp. 14-22.

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To explain the existence and observations of prebiotic molecules in interstellar and protostellar environments, it is first necessary to evaluate the chemical and physical processes that govern the generation, behavior, and destruction of precursor molecules, from which complex prebiotic species are probably formed. In interstellar and protostellar environments, many of these precursor species, such as CO2, HCOOH and CH3OH, are thought to form via chemical reactions on or in icy grains, either by thermal, UV or electron induced processes. To date the surface processes remain largely unstudied, theoretically or experimentally. In this paper we present details of a new surface astrochemistry experiment that has been designed to study the thermally induced physical and chemical behavior of interstellar ice analogues. The first results from this experiment are presented, illustrating the physical behavior of CO and CH3OH during thermal processing.