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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-06-06
    Description: Ureilites are a class of meteorites that lack chondrules (achondrites) but have relatively high carbon abundances, averaging approx.3 wt %. Using highly sensitive liquid chromatography coupled with UV fluorescence and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-FD/ToF-MS), it was recently determined that there are amino acids in. fragment 94 of the Almahata Sitta ureilite[l]. Based on the presence of amino acids that are rare in the Earth's biosphere, as well as the near-racemic enantiomeric ratios of marry of the more common amino acids, it was concluded that most of the detected amino acids were indigenous to the meteorite. Although the composition of the Almahata Sitta ureilite appears to be unlike other recovered ureilites, the discovery of amino acids in this meteorite raises the question of whether other ureilites rnav also contain amino acids. Herein we present the results of LC-FDlTo.F-MS analyses of: a sand sample from the Almahata Sitta strewn held, Almahata Sitta fragments 425 (an ordinary H5 chondrite) and 427 (ureilite), as well as an Antarctic ureilite (Allan lulls, ALHA 77257).
    Keywords: Space Sciences (General)
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-06-11
    Description: The detailed characterization of organic compounds that might be preserved in rocks, ices, or sedimentary layers on Mars would be a significant step toward resolving the question of the habitability and potential for life on that planet. The fact that the Viking gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) did not detect organic compounds should not discourage further investigations since (a) an oxidizing environment in the near surface fines analyzed by Viking is likely to have destroyed many reduced carbon species; (b) there are classes of refractory or partially oxidized species such as carboxylic acids that would not have been detected by the Viking GCMS; and (c) the Viking landing sites are not representative of Mars overall. These factors motivate the development of advanced in situ analytical protocols to carry out a comprehensive survey of organic compounds in martian regolith, ices, and rocks. We combine pyrolysis GCMS for analysis of volatile species, chemical derivatization for transformation of less volatile organics, and laser desorption mass spectrometry (LDMS) for analysis of elements and more refractory, higher-mass organics. To evaluate this approach and enable a comparison with other measurement techniques we analyze organics in Mars simulant samples.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Missions and Instruments: Hopes and Hope Fulfilled; LPI-Contrib-1197
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2018-06-11
    Description: The origin of life on Earth, and possibly on other planets such as Mars, would have required the presence of liquid water and a continuous supply of prebiotic organic compounds. The exogenous delivery of organic matter by asteroids, comets, and carbonaceous meteorites could have contributed to the early Earth s prebiotic inventory by seeding the planet with biologically important organic compounds. A wide variety of prebiotic organic compounds have previously been detected in the Murchison CM type carbonaceous chondrite including amino acids, purines and pyrimidines. These compounds dominate terrestrial biochemistry and are integral components of proteins, DNA and RNA. Several purines including adenine, guanine, hypoxanthine, and xanthine, as well as the pyrimidine uracil, have previously been detected in water or formic acid extracts of Murchison using ion-exclusion chromatography and ultraviolet spectroscopy. However, even after purification of these extracts, the accurate identification and quantification of nucleobases is difficult due to interfering UV absorbing compounds. In order to reduce these effects, we have developed an extraction technique using sublimation to isolate purines and pyrimidines from other non-volatile organic compounds in Murchison acid extracts.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Astrobiology Stew: Pinch of Microbes, Smidgen of UV, Touch of Organics, and Dash of Meteorites; LPI-Contrib-1197
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2017-10-02
    Description: The determination of the abundance and chemical and isotopic composition of organic molecules in comets and those that might be found in protected environments at Mars is a first step toward understanding prebiotic chemistries on these solar system bodies. While future sample return missions from Mars and comets will enable detailed chemical and isotopic analysis with a wide range of analytical techniques, precursor insitu investigations can complement these missions and facilitate the identification of optimal sites for sample return. Robust automated experiments that make efficient use of limited spacecraft power, mass, and data volume resources are required for use by insitu missions. Within these constraints we continue to explore a range of instrument techniques and measurement protocols that can maximize the return from such insitu investigations.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI, Part 13; LPI-Contrib-1234-Pt-13
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2017-10-02
    Description: Looking for organic compounds that are essential for biochemistry or indicative of extraterrestrial organic influx is the primary goal of MOD (Mars Organic Detector). MOD can also quantify adsorbed and chemisorbed water and evolved carbon dioxide.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXI; LPI-Contrib-1000
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2017-10-02
    Description: A reexamination of a piece of the Orgueil meteorite revealed that its amino acid composition is strikingly different to two other carbonaceous chondrites, suggesting different parent bodies. A cometary origin for Orgueil would be one possibility.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXI; LPI-Contrib-1000
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2017-10-02
    Description: The report by McKay et al. that the Martian meteorite ALH84001 contains evidence for life on Mars remains controversial. Of central importance is whether ALH84001 and other Antarctic Martian meteorites contain endogenous organic compounds. In any investigation of organic compounds possibly derived from Mars it is important to focus on compounds that play an essential role in biochemistry as we know it and that have properties such as chirality which can be used to distinguish between biotic versus abiotic origins. Amino acids are one of the few compounds that fulfill these requirements. Previous analyses of the Antarctic Martian meteorites ALH84001 and EETA79001 have shown that these meteorites contain low levels of terrestrial amino acid contamination derived from Antarctic ice meltwater. Here we report preliminary amino acid investigations of a third Antarctic Martian meteorite MIL03346 which was discovered in Antarctica during the 2003-04 ANSMET season. Additional information is included in the original extended abstract
    Keywords: Exobiology
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVI, Part 7; LPI-Contrib-1234-Pt-7
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2011-08-24
    Description: Chiral separations of fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled amino acids have been performed on a microfabricated capillary electrophoresis chip to explore the feasibility of using such devices to analyze for extinct or extant life signs in extraterrestrial environments. The test system consists of a folded electrophoresis channel (19.0 cm long x 150 microns wide x 20 microns deep) that was photolithographically fabricated in a 10-cm-diameter glass wafer sandwich, coupled to a laser-excited confocal fluorescence detection apparatus providing subattomole sensitivity. Using a sodium dodecyl sulfate/gamma-cyclodextrin pH 10.0 carbonate electrophoresis buffer and a separation voltage of 550 V/cm at 10 degrees C, baseline resolution was observed for Val, Ala, Glu, and Asp enantiomers and Gly in only 4 min. Enantiomeric ratios were determined for amino acids extracted from the Murchison meteorite, and these values closely matched values determined by HPLC. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using microfabricated lab-on-a-chip systems to analyze extraterrestrial samples for amino acids.
    Keywords: Life Sciences (General)
    Type: Analytical chemistry (ISSN 0003-2700); Volume 71; 18; 4000-6
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2011-08-24
    Description: Antarctic micrometeorites (AMMs) in the 100-400 microns size range are the dominant mass fraction of extraterrestrial material accreted by the Earth today. A high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) based technique exploited at the limits of sensitivity has been used to search for the extraterrestrial amino acids alpha-aminoisobutyric acid (AIB) and isovaline in AMMs. Five samples, each containing about 30 to 35 grains, were analyzed. All the samples possess a terrestrial amino acid component, indicated by the excess of the L-enantiomers of common protein amino acids. In only one sample (A91) was AIB found to be present at a level significantly above the background blanks. The concentration of AIB (approximately 280 ppm), and the AIB/isovaline ratio (〉 or = 10), in this sample are both much higher than in CM chondrites. The apparently large variation in the AIB concentrations of the samples suggests that AIB may be concentrated in rare subset of micrometeorites. Because the AIB/isovaline ratio in sample A91 is much larger than in CM chondrites, the synthesis of amino acids in the micrometeorite parent bodies might have involved a different process requiring an HCN-rich environment, such as that found in comets. If the present day characteristics of the meteorite and micrometeorite fluxes can be extrapolated back in time, then the flux of large carbonaceous micrometeorites could have contributed to the inventory of prebiotic molecules on the early Earth.
    Keywords: Exobiology
    Type: Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere : the journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSN 0169-6149); Volume 28; 4-6; 413-24
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2011-08-24
    Description: Trace amounts of glycine, serine, and alanine were detected in the carbonate component of the martian meteorite ALH84001 by high-performance liquid chromatography. The detected amino acids were not uniformly distributed in the carbonate component and ranged in concentration from 0.1 to 7 parts per million. Although the detected alanine consists primarily of the L enantiomer, low concentrations (〈0.1 parts per million) of endogenous D-alanine may be present in the ALH84001 carbonates. The amino acids present in this sample of ALH84001 appear to be terrestrial in origin and similar to those in Allan Hills ice, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that minute amounts of some amino acids such as D-alanine are preserved in the meteorite.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Science (ISSN 0036-8075); Volume 279; 5349; 362-5
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