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Extraction of Organic Molecules from Terrestrial Material: Quantitative Yields from Heat and Water ExtractionsIn the robotic search for life on Mars, different proposed missions will analyze the chemical and biological signatures of life using different platforms. The analysis of samples via analytical instrumentation on the surface of Mars has thus far only been attempted by the two Viking missions. Robotic arms scooped relogith material into a pyrolysis oven attached to a GC/MS. No trace of organic material was found on any of the two different samples at either of the two different landing sites. This null result puts an upper limit on the amount of organics that might be present in Martian soil/rocks, although the level of detection for each individual molecular species is still debated. Determining the absolute limit of detection for each analytical instrument is essential so that null results can be understood. This includes investigating the trade off of using pyrolysis versus liquid solvent extraction to release organic materials (in terms of extraction efficiencies and the complexity of the sample extraction process.) Extraction of organics from field samples can be accomplished by a variety of methods such utilizing various solvents including HCl, pure water, supercritical fluid and Soxhelt extraction. Utilizing 6N HCl is one of the most commonly used method and frequently utilized for extraction of organics from meteorites but it is probably infeasible for robotic exploration due to difficulty of storage and transport. Extraction utilizing H2O is promising, but it could be less efficient than 6N HCl. Both supercritical fluid and Soxhelt extraction methods require bulky hardware and require complex steps, inappropriate for inclusion on rover spacecraft. This investigation reports the efficiencies of pyrolysis and solvent extraction methods for amino acids for different terrestrial samples. The samples studied here, initially created in aqueous environments, are sedimentary in nature. These particular samples were chosen because they possibly represent one of the best terrestrial analogs of Mars and they represent one of the absolute best case scenarios for finding organic molecules on the Martian surface.
Document ID
20040065800
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Beegle, L. W.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Abbey, W. A.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Tsapin, A. T.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Dragoi, D.
(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, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Astrobiology
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.
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