Homochirality as the signature of life: the SETH Cigar

MacDermott, A.J. et al. (1996) Homochirality as the signature of life: the SETH Cigar. Planetary and Space Science, 44(11), pp. 1441-1446. (doi:10.1016/S0032-0633(96)00057-8) (PMID:11541123)

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Abstract

A characteristic hallmark of life is its homochirality; all biomolecules are usually of one hand, e.g. on Earth life uses only l-amino acids for protein synthesis and not their d mirror images. It is therefore suggested that a search for extra-terrestrial life can be approached as a Search for Extra-Terrestrial Homochirality (SETH). A novel miniaturized space polarimeter, called the SETH Cigar, is described which could be used to detect optical rotation as the homochiral signature of life on other planets. Moving parts are avoided by replacing the normal rotating polarizer by multiple fixed polarizers at different angles as in the eye of the bee. It is believed that homochirality will be found in the subsurface layers on Mars as a relic of extinct life.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barron, Professor Laurence
Authors: MacDermott, A.J., Barron, L.D., Brack, A., Buhse, T., Drake, A.F., Emery, R., Gottarelli, G., Greenberg, J.M., Haberle, R., Hegstrom, R.A., Hobbs, K., Kondepudi, D.K., McKay, C., Moorbath, S., Raulin, F., Sandford, M., Schwartzman, D.W., Thiemann, W.H.-P., Tranter, G.E., and Zarnecki, J.C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Planetary and Space Science
Publisher:Pergamon
ISSN:0032-0633
ISSN (Online):1873-5088

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