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High-Resolution Electrospray Ionization/Ion Mobility Spectrometer for Detection of Abiotic Amino AcidsOne of the primary goals of the current NASA thrust in Astrobiology is the detection and identification of organic molecules as part of an in-situ lander platform on the surface of Mars or Europa. The identification of these molecules should help determine whether indigenous organisms exist on the surface of Mars or in an undersea environment on Europa. In addition, a detailed organic chemical inventory of surface and near surface molecules will help elucidate the possibilities of life elsewhere in the Universe. Terrestrial life has, as its backbone, the family of molecules known as the amino acids (AA), and while AA can be found in the terrestrial environments as part of more complex molecules, such as peptides, and proteins, they also exist as individual molecules due to of the hydrolyses of biopolymers. In terrestrial biochemistry, there are 20 principal amino acids which are necessary for life. However, some forms of these molecules can be found in nature synthesized via abiotic process. For example, they are known to exist extraterrestrially as a component of carbonaceous meteorites. The idea that amino acids are readily created by abiotic means has been demonstrated by their positive identification in the Murchison CM2 meteorite, which fell in 1969. This meteorite was analyzed before contamination by terrestrial microbes could result. Three laboratories individually tested parts of the meteorite and concluded that the amino acids present in them were indigenous to the meteorite because, among other reasons, they had equal L- and D- enantiomers. Final identification of the constituents of the Murchison included 33 amino acids which have no known biotic source, 11 amino acids which have limited distribution and 8 (Glycine, Alanine, Valine, Proline, Leucine, Isoleucine, Aspartic Acid, and Glutamic Acid), which readily occur in terrestrial proteins.
Document ID
20030110974
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Beegle, L. W. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Terrell, C. A. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Kim, H. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Kanik, I. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIV
Subject Category
Exobiology
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20030110578Analytic PrimaryLunar and Planetary Science XXXIV
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