Space life sciences

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 432–438 | Cite as

Problems in the search for amino acids in lunar fines

  • Paul B. Hamilton
  • Bartholomew Nagy
Session III. Survey


In the search for amino acids in lunar fines, a major problem is the prevention of contamination from terrestrial sources, and the recognition of terrestrial contamination when it has occurred. Synthesis of amino acids conceivably could take place in the lunar module rocket exhaust, a possibility that has not been adequately ruled out. Amino acids could be shed from the astronauts suits, a possibility which has not been studied at all. Amino acids could also be introduced, at many stages of terrestrial manipulation, and during the analytical procedures employed. Hand contamination has qualitative and quantitative features that are characteristic and can be assessed. Precautions for elimination of hand and microbial contamination from glassware, reagents and water are proposed.

A second major problem is the efficiency of recovery of amino acids added to lunar material, which is then subject to the complete analytical scheme. This necessitates the availability of lunar material to develop proper procedures.

Besides the amino acids present in excess of blank values, it is necessary for the correct interpretation of any positive findings to know whether the amino acids are free or bound and optically inactive or active.

The ion exchange chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry are procedures that complement each other. Both should be applied not only to the same sample but to the same preparations. To pit one method against the other is to risk losing the best analytical data.


Geochemistry Analytical Scheme Positive Finding Exchange Chromatography Quantitative Feature 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul B. Hamilton
    • 1
  • Bartholomew Nagy
    • 2
  1. 1.Alfred I. du Pont Institute of the Nemours FoundationWilmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of GeoscienceUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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