Search for Life in the Solar System by Mass Spectrometry and Molecular Assembly

Heather Graham

NASA - Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Life on Earth is the fortunate beneficiary of diverse organic chemistry occurring in stars, dense molecular clouds, and small bodies (e.g. asteroids and comets). Long before carbon is incorporated on a planetary surface it is forming molecules as diverse as the bonding and branching arrangements an atom can accommodate and many of these products are used by life. How then can molecules derived by either biological or abiotic reactions be distinguished? Can we also develop biosignature search patterns that do not rely on analogy to life on Earth? This talk will discuss intrinsic chemical complexity as a potential method with a focus on Molecular Assembly, a probabilistic measure using fragmentation patterns generated by tandem mass spectrometry. We will also explore molecular assemblage analyses with natural materials and new work that incorporates isotope enrichment patterns to understand ambiguous molecules.

Date: Jeudi, le 14 mars 2024
Heure: 10:30
Lieu: Université de Montréal