ArticlesOrganic Chemistry

Organic Compounds in Lunar Samples: Pyrolysis Products, Hydrocarbons, Amino Acids

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Science  30 Jan 1970:
Vol. 167, Issue 3918, pp. 770-773
DOI: 10.1126/science.167.3918.770


Lunar fines and a chip from inside a rock pyrolyzed in helium at 700°C gave methane, other gases, and aromatic hydrocarbons. Benzene/methanol extracts of fines yielded traces of high molecular weight alkanes and sulfur. Traces of glycine, alanine, ethanolamine, and urea were found in aqueous extracts. Biological controls and a terrestrial rock, dunite, subjected to exhaust from the lunar module descent engine showed a different amino acid distribution. Interpretation of the origin of the carbon compounds requires extreme care, because of possible contamination acquired during initial sample processing.

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