This proposal addresses the issue of sample preparation technologies which can be utilized in ocean world missions to concentrate and desalt collected samples to increase the sensitivity and selectivity of the analyses. On Earth, solid phase matrices are utilized extensively for capture, separation, and selective retention of components in the sample analysis process. The Phase I effort investigated a number of different solid phase extraction matrices, and selected those which showed little loss of efficacy from stresses to which they were subjected. This Phase II effort seeks to further investigate these commercially available solid phase substrates, with the goal to develop a general method which would be suitable for use with a variety of potential analytes which might be found in liquid samples on remote ocean worlds. In addition to selected reverse phase media testing, additional work will be performed on ion exchange media, as well as other media which would be more appropriate for capture of larger polymeric molecules such as peptides or oligonucleotides. The goal of this work is to make available for future sample analysis missions, the kinds of sample preparation techniques that are routinely utilized on Earth.
Solid phase methods have a number of important roles to play in NASA missions. Solid phase extractions can enhance the sensitivity of compounds found only in very dilute quantities. Desalting methods remove the salt that can interfere with the ionization processes utilized in mass spectroscopy. The methodology developed in this Phase II effort for chromatographic solid phases that should be flight ready, will greatly benefit NASA’s efforts in the search for organic compounds and compounds associated with life on other worlds.
These solid phase matrices and methods are already utilized extensively for earth based sample preparation procedures before analysis. The materials being tested are already commercially available, thus no new non-NASA applications are anticipated.