Scientists have for a long time had interest with the study of meteorites. These space rocks reveal information on the origins of our solar system. In addition, they hold critical information on the origin of the universe, and the building blocks of life. The organic components of the Murchison and Aguas Zarcas meteorites have been the subject of extensive research in recent years. Each meteorite had tens of thousands of molecular “puzzle pieces,” according to the experts. Mass spectrometry with ultra-high resolution was used to make the finding. This discovery revealed unexpectedly high oxygen concentrations.
This ground-breaking study sheds insight into the formation of these rocks. Moreover, it presents a window into the complex blends of natural molecules in outer space. Researchers can learn more about meteorite formation processes. In addition, they can learn their space travel and the kinds of molecules that existed in the early universe. All this will be achieved by analyzing the chemical makeup of meteorites.
This study is critical because carbonaceous chondrites, the type of meteorite with the highest organic content, are uncommon. These two examples are the 1969 Murchison meteorite that landed in Australia and the 2019 Aguas Zarcas meteorite that landed in Costa Rica. Scientists can discover more about these meteorites’ environments on their journey through space. The scientists will achieve this by examining the biological components of these meteorites. Through this, they will determine where, when, and how they formed.
Researchers have been able to evaluate highly complex mixtures with high levels of resolution and accuracy. This is possible because of ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry, notably Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) MS. This method is beneficial for assessing mixtures like petroleum or the organic matter in meteorites. Scientists can determine the molecular constituents of the original sample with remarkable accuracy. They will do so by crushing a sample into small particles and calculating the mass of each one.
Ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometry examined the organic material from the Murchison and Aguas Zarcas meteorites. More than 30,000 peaks for each meteorite were produced due to the team’s decision to examine all soluble organic material simultaneously. More than 60% of them could be assigned a special molecular formula.
Unexpectedly, the researchers discovered a higher oxygen level than anticipated in the molecules. This surprising finding may offer important new information about the chemical processes involved in the meteorite creation process and the early universe.
Samples of lunar dust from the Apollo 12 and 14 missions will be analyzed as part of the team’s ongoing research. These samples are older than FT-ICR MS and have not yet been subjected to analysis with it. The study aims to shed light on the origins of the moon’s surface and learn more about its makeup.