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Proceedings Paper

Oxidation of organic materials with perchlorates: relevance to the chemistry on the Martian surface
Author(s): Vera M. Kolb
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Paper Abstract

No organic materials have been found on the Martian surface, based on the results from the Viking and Phoenix missions. The Phoenix mission detected the inorganic perchlorates in the Martian soil. Perchlorates are potent oxidizing substances. The high-temperature oxidative properties of perchlorates may promote combustion of organics in pyrolytic experiments. This may compromise the ability of Phoenix's TEGA (Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer) experiments to detect organics. The high temperature conditions of TEGA instrument are not representative of the environment on Mars. In this paper we pose a question if organic materials can survive oxidation with perchlorates at less drastic temperatures. We have surveyed the literature on oxidations of various groups of organic materials by perchlorates. Several amino acids, notably glycine and alanine, are quite resistant to this oxidation. The same is true for some heterocycles, purines and purimidines. These organic materials may have survived perchlorate oxidation in the natural environment on Mars.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 September 2009
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 7441, Instruments and Methods for Astrobiology and Planetary Missions XII, 74410E (3 September 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.824161
Show Author Affiliations
Vera M. Kolb, Univ. of Wisconsin-Parkside (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7441:
Instruments and Methods for Astrobiology and Planetary Missions XII
Kurt D. Retherford; Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov, Editor(s)

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