Pascale Ehrenfreund

studied on the International Space Station 

Flight Opportunity: 2004

Scientific goal:
This experiment studies the effects of UV radiation, low pressure and heavy ion bombardment on organic molecules of astrophysical and exobiological interest on the International Space Station ISS. We shall prepare samples to be exposed on the EXPOSE assembly mounted on the Space Station Express Pallet on the ISS. These samples will include specific polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), fullerene compounds and different types of kerogens. PAHs are a highly abundant and ubiquitous compound in the interstellar medium, and kerogens represent analogues to organic extracts from carbonaceous meteorites, whose isotopic composition is far from being understood. The spontaneous formation and stability of fullerene compounds have suggested their existence in relation to carbon dust. Our group has recently detected fingerprints of interstellar fullerenes in astronomical spectra, indicating that fullerenes may play an important role in interstellar chemistry. 

Using our expertise and available laboratory equipment we will subject the samples, before and after exposure to space environment, to various chemical and physical analysis: UV, visible, infrared, and fluorescence spectroscopy, gas chromatography/mass-spectrometry (GC/MS), isotopic analysis, magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and Secondary-Ion-Mass-Spectrometry (SIMS). 

This experiment will monitor the chemical evolution, survival, destruction and chemical modification of PAHs, fullerenes, and macromolecules in space environment. From the results we shall determine constraints on the photochemistry of these compounds in the interstellar medium. 

Since PAHs, fullerenes and macromolecules are also present in meteorites the obtained data are most relevant for the reconstruction of events in the early Solar System. Also an ecological aspect can be addressed by investigating the different stability of PAH isomers. The obtained results will be a significant step to understand and model the evolution of organic matter and their reaction products under the harsh conditions in interplanetary or interstellar space. 

Principal Investigator:

Pascale Ehrenfreund 
Raymond and Beverly Sackler Laboratory for
Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory 
P O Box 9513 
2300 RA Leiden 
The Netherlands 
Tel: (31) 715275812 
Fax: (31) 715275819 


Bernard H. Foing 
ESA, Space Science Department, ESTEC, Noordwijk 

Richard Ruiterkamp 
Leiden Observatory, Leiden, The Netherlands 

Werner Schmidt 
PAH Forschungsinstitut, Greifenberg, Germany 

Elmar Jessberger 
Inst. für Planetologie der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Univ.Münster, Germany 

Farid Salama 
NASA AMES RESEARCH Center, Mountainview, USA 

Christian Koeberl 
Institut für Geochemie, Universität Wien, Austria 

Francois Robert 
Laboratoire de Mineralogie, Museum CNRS, Paris, France 

Michel G. Breitfellner 
ESA, Satellite Tracking Station, Villafranca del Castillo, Madrid, Spain 

Francoise Behar 
Geology & Geochemestry Division Institut Francais du Petrole, Rueil-Malmaison, France 

Paule Sonnentrucker 
John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

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