, Volume 31, Issue 1-2, pp 199-210

ESA Mission ROSETTA Will Probe for Chirality of Cometary Amino Acids

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Abstract

New crucial theoretical investigations on the origin of biomolecular chirality are reviewed briefly. With the goal to investigate these theories our team is going to perform the `chirality-experiment' in the near future with cometarymatter. In 2012 the robotical lander RoLand will detach fromthe orbiter of the ROSETTA spacecraft and set down on the surface of comet 46P/Wirtanen in order to separate andidentify cometary organic compounds via GC-MS in situ.Chiral organics will be separated into their enantiomers by application of 3 capillary columns coated with different kindsof stationary phases. Non-volatile compounds like amino acidswill be derivatized in especially developed gas phasealkylation steps avoiding reactions in the liquid phase. Theresults of these preliminary gas phase reactions are presentedin this article.