Selection and Analytical Performances of the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer Gas Chromatographic Columns to Support the Search for Organic Molecules of Astrobiological Interest on Titan - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Astrobiology Year : 2023

Selection and Analytical Performances of the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer Gas Chromatographic Columns to Support the Search for Organic Molecules of Astrobiological Interest on Titan

Valentin Moulay
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Caroline Freissinet
Malak Bigourd
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Elise Couturier
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Caroline Breton
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Melissa G. Trainer
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Cyril Szopa

Abstract

Titan is a key planetary body for astrobiology, with the presence of a subsurface ocean and a dense atmosphere, in which complex chemistry is known to occur. Approximately 1-Titan-year after the Cassini-Huygens mission arrived in the saturnian system, Dragonfly rotorcraft will land on Titan's surface by 2034 for an exhaustive geophysical and chemical investigation of the Shangri-La organic sand sea region. Among the four instruments onboard Dragonfly, the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS) is dedicated to analyze the chemical composition of surface samples and noble gases in the atmosphere. One of the DraMS analysis modes, the Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS), is devoted to the detection and identification of organic molecules that could be involved in the development of a prebiotic chemistry or even representative of traces of past or present life. Therefore, DraMS-GC subsystem should be optimized to detect and identify relevant organic compounds to meet this objective. This work is focused on the experimental methods employed to select the chromatographic column to be integrated in DraMS-GC, to assess the analytical performances of the column selected, and also to assess the performances of the second DraMS-GC column, which is devoted to the separation of organic enantiomers. Four different stationary phases have been tested to select the most relevant one for the separation of the targeted chemical species. The results show that the stationary phase composed of polymethyl (95%) diphenyl (5%) siloxane is the best compromise in terms of efficiency, robustness, and retention times of the molecules. The combination of the general and the chiral columns in DraMS is perfectly suited to in situ chemical analysis on Titan and for the detection of expected diverse and complex organic compounds.
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insu-03920122 , version 1 (30-05-2024)

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Valentin Moulay, Caroline Freissinet, Malak Bigourd, Arnaud Buch, Maryline Ancelin, et al.. Selection and Analytical Performances of the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer Gas Chromatographic Columns to Support the Search for Organic Molecules of Astrobiological Interest on Titan. Astrobiology, 2023, 23 (2), pp.213-229. ⟨10.1089/ast.2022.0038⟩. ⟨insu-03920122⟩
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