HOUSTON (Jul. 21)
When the Apollo 11 astronauts return to the earth with their moon samples, a scientist of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel will be on hand. His analytical method will be used to probe for manifestations of life in the material. The method developed by Dr. Emanuel Gil-Av. and his chemistry department team permits the detection of amino acids in trace quantities and the simultaneous determination of optical activity in the acids.
Dr. Gil-Av spent a year, on a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in the laboratory of Prof. John Oro of Houston University’s department of physical sciences, returning to Israel at the beginning of 1969. He was invited back to Houston to participate in the examination of the lunar samples.
The purpose of his Houston stay was to adapt the procedures developed at Rehovot to the special requirements of analyzing lunar samples. Meteorites and sediments of the Precambrian age served as model substances on which the sensitivity and reliability of the methods were tested. A Weizmann Institute team was trained to carry out the analysis, and research was initiated to refine and extend the method.