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Perchlorate‐driven combustion of organic matter during pyrolysis‐gas chromatography‐mass spectrometry: implications for organic matter detection on earth and mars

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Title: Perchlorate‐driven combustion of organic matter during pyrolysis‐gas chromatography‐mass spectrometry: implications for organic matter detection on earth and mars
Authors: Royle, SH
Oberlin, E
Watson, JS
Montgomery, W
Kounaves, SP
Sephton, MA
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The search for life on Mars targets the detection of organic matter from extant or extinct organisms. Current protocols use thermal extraction procedures to transfer organic matter to mass spectrometer detectors. Oxidizing minerals on Mars, such as perchlorate, interfere with organic detection by thermal extraction. Thermal decomposition of perchlorate releases oxygen which promotes combustion of organic carbon. We have assessed the minimum mass ratio of organic carbon to perchlorate required to detect organic matter by thermal extraction and mass spectrometry. Locations on Mars with organic carbon to perchlorate ratios above 4.7-9.6 should be targeted. Because habitability is enhanced by the presence of liquid water and because perchlorate is a water soluble salt, locations on Mars with evidence of past or recent liquid water are high priority targets.
Issue Date: 26-Jul-2018
Date of Acceptance: 6-Jul-2018
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/62114
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2018JE005615
ISSN: 2169-9097
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Start Page: 1901
End Page: 1909
Journal / Book Title: Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Volume: 123
Issue: 7
Copyright Statement: ©2018. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Sponsor/Funder: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
UK Space Agency
Funder's Grant Number: ST/N000560/1
ST/N000560/1
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2018-07-26
Appears in Collections:Earth Science and Engineering
Faculty of Engineering