Search for Organic and Volatile Inorganic Compounds in Two Surface Samples from the Chryse Planitia Region of Mars

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Science  01 Oct 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4260, pp. 72-76
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4260.72


Two surface samples collected from the Chryse Planitia region of Mars were heated to temperatures up to 500°C, and the volatiles that they evolved were analyzed with a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer. Only water and carbon dioxide were detected. This implies that organic compounds have not accumulated to the extent that individual components could be detected at levels of a few parts in 109 by weight in our samples. Proposed mechanisms for the accumulation and destruction of organic compounds are discussed in the light of this limit.