Michael Callahan and his team at Goddard's Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory have recently applied advanced technology to inspect extremely small meteorite samples for the components of life.

The team used a nanoflow liquid chromatography instrument to sort the molecules in the meteorite sample, then applied nanoelectrospray ionization to give the molecules an electric charge and deliver them to a high-resolution mass spectrometer instrument, which identified the molecules based on their mass.

"We found amino acids in a 360 microgram sample of the Murchison meteorite," said Callahan. "This sample size is 1,000 times smaller than the typical sample size used."


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