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Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan (1961)

Chapter: Front Matter

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1961. Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18476.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1961. Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18476.
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Page R2
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1961. Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18476.
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Page R3
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1961. Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18476.
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Page R4
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1961. Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18476.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Organic Matter and The Moon by Carl Sagan Panel on Extra-Terrestrial Life for the Armed Forces-NRC Committee on Bio-Astronautics Publication 757 National Academy of Sciences—National Research Council Washington, D. C. 1961

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 61-6OO64 Univ. MlcrsWms H°-i W CXjP .O 0 Q

PREFACE The need for a critical examination of the possibilities in- herent in lunar exploration for furthering our knowledge of both current and evolutionary biology has become increasingly apparent. We therefore have sought such a review and herewith present it in the hope that it will inspire the scientific community to devise new and critical experiments in preparation for this imminent explora- tion. MELVIN CALVIN, Chairman Panel 2, Extra-Terrestrial Life Armed Forces-NRC Committee on Bio-Astronautics March 15, 1961 lii

CONTENTS Page I. INTRODUCTION 1 II. PRODUCTION OF ORGANIC MATTER IN EARLY LUNAR HISTORY 2 A. General Theory 2 B. Historical Development of Lunar Gaseous Envelopes 3 C. Diffusion Times of Synthesized Molecules ... 5 D. Quantum Yields 9 E. Ultraviolet Fluxes and Solar Evolution 11 F. Lifetime of Secondary Lunar Atmosphere .... 13 G. Surface Densities of Deposited Organic Matter. . 14 H. Protection of Deposited Molecules and Present Location of Lunar Deposits of Organic Matter . . 16 I. Conclusions and Suggested Experiments 17 III. REPORTS OF GAS CLOUDS ON THE LUNAR SURFACE 19 IV. LUNAR SUBSURFACE TEMPERATURES 22 V. POSSIBILITY OF AN INDIGENEOUS LUNAR PARABIOLOGY 24 VI. SURVIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY TERRESTRIAL MICROORGANISMS ON THE MOON 26 A. Temperature Lability 26 B. Deflection of Incident Charged Particles By the Lunar Magnetic Field 27 C. Attenuation of Incident Radiation by the Present Lunar Atmosphere 28 D. Adopted Fluxes, Mean Lethal Doses, and Absorption Coefficients 28 E. Survival Times 31 F. Dissociation of Nonliving Organic Matter .... 33

VII. BIOLOGICAL CONTAMINATION OF THE MOON . . 34 A. Possible Kinds of Biological Contamination: Biomixy, Sapromixy, Phagomixy, and Ecomixy 34 B. Distribution of Vehicle Impact Products .... 35 C. Evaluation of Contamination Possibilities ... 36 D. Decontamination Recommendations for Unmanned and for Manned Vehicles 38 VIII. SUMMARY 40 IX. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 42 X. APPENDIX: SURVIVAL TIME OF AN IRRADIATED POPULATION 43 XI. BIBLIOGRAPHY ................. 45 VI

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The immediate future seems to hold both the promise and the responsibility of extensive contact between man-made objects and the Moon.

Current United States plans tentatively call for the soft landing on the Moon of instrumentation designed to detect indigenous organisms or organic matter, possibly in a roving vehicle, by 1964-67 in the Surveyor and Prospector Programs. The Soviet Union apparently has the capability of performing similar experiments at an earlier date. It is clear that positive results would give significant information on such problems as the early history of the Solar System, the chemical composition of matter in the remote past, the origin of life on Earth, and the distribution of life beyond the Earth. By the same token, biological contamination of the Moon would represent an unparalleled scientific disaster, eliminating possible approaches to these problems. Because of the Moon's unique situation as a large unweathered body at an intermediate distance from the Sun, scientific opportunities lost on the Moon may not be recoupable elsewhere.

This monograph is concerned with the possibility of finding indigenous lunar organisms or organic matter, and with the possibility of their contamination by deposited terrestrial organisms or organic matter.

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