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Accession Number N20130009148
Title Search for Ammonia in Martian Soils with Curiosity's SAM Instrument.
Publication Date Mar 2013
Media Count 2p
Personal Author A. Steele C. Freissinet C. P. McKay C. R. Webster D. P. Glavin H. B. Franz J. J. Wray J. L. Eigenbrode P. D. Archer P. R. Mahaffy R. Navarro-Gonzalez W. B. Brinckerhoff
Abstract Nitrogen is the second or third most abundant constituent of the Martian atmosphere (1,2). It is a bioessential element, a component of all amino acids and nucleic acids that make up proteins, DNA and RNA, so assessing its availability is a key part of Curiosity's mission to characterize Martian habitability. In oxidizing desert environments it is found in nitrate salts that co-occur with perchlorates (e.g., 3), inferred to be widespread in Mars soils (4-6). A Mars nitrogen cycle has been proposed (7), yet prior missions have not constrained the state of surface N. Here we explore Curiosity's ability to detect N compounds using data from the rover's first solid sample. Companion abstracts describe evidence for nitrates (8) and for nitriles (C(triple bond)N) (9); we focus here on nonnitrile, reduced-N compounds as inferred from bonded N-H. The simplest such compound is ammonia (NH3), found in many carbonaceous chondrite meteorites in NH4(+) salts and organic compounds (e.g., 10).
Keywords Amino acids
Curiosity rover
Mars surface
Mars surface samples
Nitrogen compounds

Source Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NTIS Subject Category 54 - Astronomy & Astrophysics
84B - Extraterrestial Exploration
Corporate Author National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Houston, TX. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note N/A
NTIS Issue Number 1319
Contract Number N/A

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