Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 199-210

First online:

ESA Mission ROSETTA Will Probe for Chirality of Cometary Amino Acids

  • Wolfram H.-P. ThiemannAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Chemistry, University of Bremen Email author 
  • , Uwe MeierhenrichAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Chemistry, University of Bremen

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


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.

amino acid asymmetric synthesis chirality COSAC cyclodextrin derivatization enantiomer separation gas chromatography origin of optical activity Rosetta 46P/Wirtanen