2009 Annual Science Report
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Reporting | JUL 2008 – AUG 2009
Advancing Techniques for in Situ of Complex Organics
During this year we continued developing techniques and protocols for laser time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS) analysis of complex organic molecules and trace elements, which would be of importance on missions to Mars, Titan, comets, and other planetary bodies, where resources for chemical sample manipulation, preparation, and processing are limited. We upgraded the solid sampling and optical configurations for our “Tower TOF” prototype and used the system to further develop peak pattern libraries for Mars and cometary analogs in comparison with other instrument techniques. We examined the effects of sample preparation on fragmentation patterns of benzene di-, tri-, and hexa-carboxylic acid standards, finding that often simpler approaches can yield more reliable results. We also worked toward a new laser pyrolysis-based experiment for analysis of neutral gas from solid samples.
PROJECT MEMBERS:William Brinckerhoff
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 2.1
Outer Solar System exploration
Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials