Organics and water-ice coexist in many parts of our solar system and in the interstellar medium, particularly where the temperatures are low. Interstellar ice grains, protoplanetary disks, evolved planetary systems consisting of outer planetary icy bodies, and small bodies like Kuiper Belt Objects and Oort Cloud – the birth places of comets, all these icy matter co-exists with organics. Thus, understanding the chemical evolution of organics in ice matrix environment is important, particularly with their potential for habitability in outer planetary environments such as Europa and their role in triggering origin of life during later heavy bombardment stage by asteroids and comets bringing water and organics to Earth.
We developed a new method to analyze in-situ the composition of ice analogs of these bodies without having to warm-up or process samples. Our two-step, two-color laser ablation and laser ionization mass spectrometry (2C-LAIMS) uses infrared laser to ablate ice samples at any given temperature and radiation processing conditions. The ablated plume is then subjected to a second laser ionization. Results from these studies will be presented. We have shown that organics are oxygenated and hydrogenated even at interstellar ice conditions (5-10 K), indicating that complex chemistry has been occurring already in the coldest reaches of the Universe.