The application of TMAH thermochemolysis on the detection of nucleotides: applications for the SAM and MOMA space experiments - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles (Review Article) Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis Year : 2023

The application of TMAH thermochemolysis on the detection of nucleotides: applications for the SAM and MOMA space experiments

Cyril Szopa
Caroline Freissinet
Melissa Guzman
  • Function : Author
  • PersonId : 1033337
Maeva Millan
David Coscia
  • Function : Author
  • PersonId : 971424
Michel Cabane
  • Function : Author
  • PersonId : 965609

Abstract

The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument onboard the Curiosity rover and Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) instrument onboard the ExoMars rover are two of the most important instruments used for the in-situ search for biosignatures of life on Mars. Tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) thermochemolysis combined with pyrolysis-gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) has been one of the main techniques utilized by SAM and will be utilized by MOMA. They are both capable of detecting molecular fragments and patterns indicative of life in the Martian near-surface. This study identifies the TMAH thermochemolysis products of targeted nucleotides using flash pyrolysis and SAM-like ramp pyrolysis experiments. Additionally, the optimal TMAH thermochemolysis temperature was determined. Results indicate that the methylated nucleosides can be detected at low abundances when exposed to TMAH thermochemolysis flash pyrolysis at 200 °C. Notably, higher pyrolysis temperatures led to the degradation of nucleosides. Furfuryl methyl ether, one of the degradation products of these nucleosides, was also identified from 200 to 600 °C in this study. 300 °C is the optimal temperature for the detection of methylated phosphate under flash pyrolysis of the tested nucleotides with TMAH thermochemolysis. Methylated nucleobases, methyl furfuryl and methyl phosphate are the main products of the tested nucleotides under SAM-like ramp thermochemolysis. Ramped thermochemolysis also resulted in improved performance over flash pyrolysis in the detection of characteristic nucleotide compounds. Uracil and thymine can be detected by both SAM and MOMA if there are nucleotides on Mars; additionally, MOMA will be able to detect adenine. Therefore, methyl furfuryl, methylated phosphate, and the methylated nucleobases uracil, thymine, and adenine are the organic compounds that should be within the SAM and MOMA detection windows if there is DNA/RNA conserved in Martian soil. These experiments will provide a reference for the data collected in-situ by the Curiosity rover and the future ExoMars rover.
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Yuanyuan He, Arnaud Buch, Cyril Szopa, Amy Williams, Caroline Freissinet, et al.. The application of TMAH thermochemolysis on the detection of nucleotides: applications for the SAM and MOMA space experiments. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 2023, 170, pp.105933. ⟨10.1016/j.jaap.2023.105933⟩. ⟨insu-04005880⟩
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