General Mars
  Implications of Life

  Definition of Life
  Martian Meteorite

Data Analysis
  Thin Section Analysis
  Isotope Analysis
  Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer
  Infrared Spectroscopy
  Alpha-Proton X-Ray Spectrometer
  Detection of Carbon Complexes
  Labeled Release
  Gas Exchange
  Pyrolytic Release
  Stimulus Response Experiments

Scientific Research and Design
Data Analysis -- Infrared Spectroscopy

Infrared Spectroscopy is another important tool for organic chemical analysis and structural identification. An IR spectrum is produced by absorption of energy (4000-400 cm-1) due to vibrations of polar covalent bonds. 

Positive: The IR spectrum of the unknown compound can be compared to tables of functional groups to determine structure. A structure indicative of compounds contained only in life samples would be a positive. A structure sometimes indicative of life would require further testing. 

Negative: An identifiable structure characteristic of inorganic life. 

False-Positive: A structure sometimes indicative of life could be a false-positive, but again, further testing would clarify.

mitCopyright © 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Comments and questions to Last updated: 10 December, 2000