George Cooper

I have been interested in joining a project such as the Africa Initiative for Planetary and Space Sciencess ever since I attended a conference (climate change) in Benin. I am a research scientist (PI) at NASA-Ames Research Center in Northern California, USA.

My work is best described as analytical organic chemistry. My principle analytical technique is gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). My work is space related: it involves the analysis of organic compounds in carbonaceous meteorites. These meteorites are ~ 4.6 billion years old, so the organic compounds in them represent the solar system’s earliest organic chemistry. However, on a practical level, if any country is to either study or travel to other planets/moons/bodies in the solar system, techniques such as GC-MS will likely be essential in finding out exactly what these objects are made of.

Since the above meteorites have been colliding with every object in the solar system since the beginning, it is a good bet that their contents will be one of the first materials discovered upon landing on a different body.

We have found quite an inventory of organic compounds in meteorites over the years. GC-MS is currently being used on the Mars rover and was used on the ESA mission to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (my GC-MS is for use in the laboratory).

When analyzing unknowns, GC-MS is also very frequently critical to the analysis of a wide variety of samples including water, soil, blood, air, etc.

I would appreciate participating in the AFIPS in any way.

Contact: George Cooper, Exobiology Branch, NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, e-mail: