Supercritical fluid extraction of the non-polar organic compounds in meteorites

Sephton, M.A.; Pillinger, C.T. and Gilmour, I. (2001). Supercritical fluid extraction of the non-polar organic compounds in meteorites. Planetary and Space Science, 49(1) pp. 101–106.



The carbonaceous chondrite meteorites contain a variety of extraterrestrial organic molecules. These organic components provide a valuable insight into the formation and evolution of the solar system. Attempts at obtaining and interpreting this information source are hampered by the small sample sizes available for study and the interferences from terrestrial contamination. Supercritical fluid extraction represents an efficient and contamination-free means of isolating extraterrestrial molecules. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses of extracts from Orgueil and Cold Bokkeveld reveal a complex mixture of free non-polar organic molecules which include normal alkanes, isoprenoid alkanes, tetrahydronaphthalenes and aromatic hydrocarbons. These organic assemblages imply contributions from both terrestrial and extraterrestrial sources.

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