Extracting Secrets of the Solar System: Soluble Organic Analysis of Meteorites and Returned Samples

Dr. Jamie Elsila

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 11:00
Thematic Seminar: Cosmochemistry
Dr. Jamie Elsila, NASA GSFC

Laboratory analysis of solar system materials, including meteorites and returned samples, provides important information about early solar system chemistry and the potential distribution of the ingredients necessary for life. Meteorites provide samples from diverse parent bodies, while samples returned by space missions represent materials from known parent bodies with the benefits of context and minimal contamination. Targeted laboratory analyses of these samples have identified a wide range of organic compounds, including soluble organics such as amino acids, carboxylic acids, aldehydes, ketones, sugars, nucleobases, hydrocarbons, and more, as well as insoluble macromolecular material. Amino acids are of particular interest to astrobiology because of the role they play in life on Earth. This talk will discuss how organic compounds, especially amino acids, are analyzed in extraterrestrial materials, and how these analyses contribute to our understanding of the origin of life on Earth.