Life Marker Chip Sample Processing Post PCR#2 (Q3 2009 to Q3 2010)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Earth Science and Engineering


The extraction of organic molecules from samples on Mars and their subsequent delivery to an instrument capable of characterizing their chemistry represents a substantial analytical challenge. Difficulties arise because of the various chemical properties of the target molecules. Biological molecules are predominantly polar and dissolve readily in aqueous solutions whereas fossil organic molecules are non polar and dissolve in organic solvents; abiotic molecules can contain both types. A solvent for Mars must be able to cope with all types of organic molecule. Our current method uses a surfactant/water/methanol solution. Moreover, the organic molecules may reside in a number of lithologies each of which can selectively retain certain analytes. These matrix effects represent potential barriers for effective extraction procedures. The host lithologies may also produce changes in solvent chemistry which has a deleterious effect on its extraction efficiency or characteristics during transport.


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Description Extraction protocols for organic molecules using aqueous solvents
Detection capabilities for Mars life detection instruments
Understanding of organic matter preservation and extraction in extreme settings
Exploitation Route Work is published and accessible to others
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

Description Organic compounds are at the centre of the energy industry and our improved methods for extraction, manipulation and detection are being examined by the oil industry.
First Year Of Impact 2006
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Energy
Impact Types Economic