ArticlesOrganic Chemistry

Search for Organic Compounds in the Lunar Dust from the Sea of Tranquiblity

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Science  30 Jan 1970:
Vol. 167, Issue 3918, pp. 760-762
DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3918.760


A sample of lunar dust was examined for organic compounds. Carbon detected in concentrations of 157 micrograms per gram had a δ13C per mil (PDB) value of + 20. Treatment with hydrochloric acid yielded hydrocarbons of low molecular weight, suggesting the presence of carbides. The gas chromatogram of the acylated and esterified derivatives of the hydrolyzate was similar to that obtained for the Pueblito de Allende meteorite. There were no detectable amounts of extractable high-molecular-weight alkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, isoprenoid hydrocarbons, normal alkanes, fatty acids, amino acids, sugars, or nucleic acid bases. Traces of porphyrins were found, perhaps arising from rocket exhaust materials.

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