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The hydrothermal labs are given to experiments testing the JPL origin of life theory under the auspices of Dr. Isik Kanik. A continuous high-pressure flow reactor has been designed at JPL to simulate the interaction of hydrothermal solutions and ocean waters with submarine crust on the early Earth -- conditions appropriate to those that probably obtained at the onset of life. The experimental operating conditions are appropriate for investigating kinetic hydrothermal processes in the early history of any sizable wet rocky planet. It tests the feasibility of dissolution of particular molecules and their transport toward a hydrothermal mound. The effluent from the reactor is injected into a reservoir of a simulacrum of the 4 billion year old 'Hadean Ocean' water in experiments that demonstrated the capacity of such fluids to generate hydrothermal chimneys and a variety of compartments precipitates bearing metal sulfides catalysts. Comparable natural composite structures may have acted as hatcheries for emergent life on any wet, rocky world, and as such informs on the likelihood of other worlds hosting life.

Primary Tasks:

  1. generation of hydrothermal fluids deduced to reproduce the chemistry of those exhaling beneath the ocean over 4 billion years ago,
  2. production of precipitate mounds and membranes with morphologies and properties comparable to those obtaining at the origin of life.,
  3. analyses by environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS), X-ray diffraction, XRD, Raman Spectrometry, iCAP 6300a inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) and Varian 7000 Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR).
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