Beta-cyclodextrin filled analytical column will be carried again to Mars (by Rosalind Franklin rover).

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In the near future ESA’s ExoMars mission plans to deliver the Rosalind Franklin rover on
the surface of Mars [1]. This rover will be equipped with the Mars Organic Molecule Analyser
(MOMA), a gas chromatograph containing (among three other columns) the enantioselective CP Chirasil-Dex CB capillary column from Agilent with β-cyclodextrin chiral stationary phase. The MOMA instrument will be used to resolve and quantify organic molecules including enantiomers in surface and subsurface
(up to a depth of 2 m) samples of Mars. The results presented in a recent publication prepare for the
chirality experiment onboard the ExoMars mission that is capable not only to search for
the chirality of amino acids and sugar molecules, but as described here also hydrocarbon
enantiomers to distinguish their biological versus nonbiological origin [2]. It it unfortunate though, the European Space Agency said on 2022 Feb 28 that it is “very unlikely” that its ExoMars mission will launch this September because of sanctions on Russia from its invasion of Ukraine [3].

[1] Vago, J.L.; Westall, F.; Pasteur Instrument Teams, L.S.; Coates, A.J.; Jaumann, R.; Korablev, O.; Ciarletti, V.; Mitrofanov, I.; Josset, J.-L.; De Sanctis, M.C.; et al. Habitability on Early Mars and the Search for Biosignatures with the ExoMars Rover. Astrobiology 2017, 17, 471–510.

[2] Leseigneur, G.; Filippi, J.-J.; Baldovini, N.; Meierhenrich, U. Absolute Configuration of Aliphatic
Hydrocarbon Enantiomers Identified by Gas Chromatography: Theorized
Application for Isoprenoid Alkanes and the Search of Molecular Biosignatures on Mars. Symmetry
2022, 14, 326. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym14020326

[3] https://spacenews.com/esa-says-its-very-unlikely-exomars-will-launch-this-year/

Picture credits: ESA/Mlabspace (image free to distribute)

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