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Throughout much of human history, space was thought to be a void in which only ions or radicals existed. It was only in the last half of the 20th century that scientists began to discover the existence of molecules, such as ammonia, in space. Discovery has accelerated in the last decade with the installation of new facilities and cutting-edge advances in spectroscopic analysis. These exciting discoveries in astrochemistry—a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the chemical composition of and processes in astrophysical and planetary environments—have potential applications to the general chemistry and chemical-engineering communities. Accordingly, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop on November 8–9, 2018, to (1) explore the chemistry of space—its novel chemicals and reaction mechanisms, (2) discuss information from remote sensing through spectroscopy, and (3) consider discoveries from spacecraft missions in the solar system and laboratory studies of extraterrestrial samples. The ultimate goals of the workshop were to bring the various communities together to explore how discoveries in astrochemistry might provide insights or opportunities for the general chemistry and chemical-engineering communities and to promote understanding in the chemistry and chemical-engineering communities of how they might be able to help the astrochemistry community approach its challenges. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place during the workshop.

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Astrochemistry: Discoveries to Inform the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Communities: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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