ArticlesOrganic Chemistry

Organic Analysis of the Returned Lunar Sample

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Science  30 Jan 1970:
Vol. 167, Issue 3918, pp. 757-759
DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3918.757


Lunar fines have been examined for organic compounds by crushing, programmed heating, hydrofluoric acid etching, and solvent extraction. Products were examined by mass spectroscopy. A variety of small organic molecules, including methane and other hydrocarbons, accompanied the release of the rare gases when the sample was heated in a stepwise fashion to 900°C under vacuum. Methane is more abundant (abundance on the order of 1 part per million) than argon in the matrix-entrapped gases liberated by hydrofluoric acid etching of lunar fines. Methane is also present in a dark portion of the gas-rich meteorite Kapoeta.

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