ArticlesOrganic Chemistry

Search for Porphyrins in Lunar Dust

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Science  30 Jan 1970:
Vol. 167, Issue 3918, pp. 763-765
DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3918.763


Evidence for porphyrins was obtained in the Apollo 11 bulk sample of lunar dust by fluorescence spectrometry and analytical demetallation. The indicated porphyrins showed major fluorescence excitation at 390 nanometers. Abundance was about 10-10 gram of porphyrin per gram of dust. Similar pigments were found in exhaust products from tests of a lunar descent engine. The similarity of results suggests that most if not all of the indicated porphyrin aggregate of the lunar sample probably was synthesized from rocket fuel during the landing of the lunar module. These compounds may be the product of a novel high-temperature synthesis of cosmochemical interest.

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