Solar System Exploration Division

José C. Aponte


José C. Aponte's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6916
Org Code: 691
Mail Code 691
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Research Interests

Extraterrestrial Organic Compounds

Solar System: Astrochemistry

José is an astrochemist in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He works on the development of analytical methods to characterize, quantify, and measure the isotopic and enantiomeric signatures of small organic compounds (e.g. amines, monocarboxylic acids, and amino acids), that are present in carbonaceous chondrites, and that may have been relevant to the origins of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere. José is also a scientific Co-Investigator for the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the Goddard Center for Astrobiology and a Collaborator on the science team for the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.


Ph.D. in Natural Products and Organic Chemistry (Dec 2009), Chemistry Department, University of Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.

B.S. in Chemistry (Dec 2003), Chemistry Department, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru.


  • 2022 Robert H. Goddard Honor Exceptional Achievement Award – Science as a member of The Consortium for Hyabusa2 Analysis of Organic Solubles team, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, June 2022.
  • 2022 Special Thanks And Recognition (STAR) Award, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, June 2022.
  • 2020 Robert H. Goddard Honor Exceptional Achievement Award - Science, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, June 2021.
  • Group Achievement Award – OSIRIS-REx Mission team, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, April 2018.
  • 2017 Asteroid (2005 EY161) discovered at Mount Lemmon on 2005-03-09 by Mt. Lemmon Survey was renamed as Asteroid (117652) Joséaponte, October 2017.
  • 2016 Annual Peer Award, Solar System Exploration Division (Code 690), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, July 2016.
  • NASA Early Career Fellowship ($100K to be used as laboratory start-up funds after obtaining a tenure-track or equivalent position), Planetary Science Division, NASA ROSES Emerging Worlds solicitation, February 2015.
  • 2014 Student and Early-Career Scientist Travel Grant, given by The International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life – The International Astrobiology Society (ISSOL), to attend the Origins International Conference, Nara, Japan, July 2014.
  • 2012 International Research and Development (IRAD) Innovator of the Year – Team Award, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, December 2012.
  • 2011 AbGradCon Travel Award to attend the Astrobiology Research Focus Group (RFG) Workshop and the Astrobiology Graduate Conference, June 2011.
  • 2009 Guy Stevenson Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies (the highest honor achievable for a graduate student) given by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, University of Louisville, November 2009.
  • 2009 Graduate Dean’s Citation (an honor given to less than 10% of graduate students) for my significant accomplishments during my graduate studies, University of Louisville, November 2009.
  • MEDI Travel Grant, given by the American Chemical Society, Medicinal Chemistry Division, to attend the American Chemical Society 238th National Meeting & Exposition, June 2009.
  • IMD3 Travel Award, given by the Institute for Molecular Diversity and Drug Design, to attend the American Chemical Society 238th National Meeting & Exposition, May 2009.
  • Lynn Brady Student Travel Award, given by the American Society of Pharmacognosy Foundation to attend the American Society of Pharmacognosy 4th Interim Meeting, April 2008.
  • First Prize in Writing and Second Prize in Painting, Spring Art Contest, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, October 2002.
  • Second Prize in Writing, Spring Art Contest, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, October 2001.

Selected Publications


2024. "Soluble Organic Compounds and Cyanide in Apollo 17 Lunar Samples: Origins and Curation Effects." Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 129 (4): [10.1029/2023je008133] [Journal Article/Letter]

2024. "Molecular distribution and ¹³C isotope composition of volatile organic compounds in the Murchison and Sutter's Mill carbonaceous chondrites." Meteoritics and Planetary Science 59 (2): 286-300 [10.1111/maps.14118] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in samples of Ryugu formed in the interstellar medium." Science 382 (6677): 1411-1416 [10.1126/science.adg6304] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Investigating the impact of x‐ray computed tomography imaging on soluble organic matter in the Murchison meteorite: Implications for Bennu sample analyses." Meteoritics and Planetary Science [10.1111/maps.14111] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Soluble organic matter Molecular atlas of Ryugu reveals cold hydrothermalism on C-type asteroid parent body." Nature Communications 14 (1): 6525 [Full Text] [10.1038/s41467-023-42075-y] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Chemical evolution of primordial salts and organic sulfur molecules in the asteroid 162173 Ryugu." Nature Communications 14 (1): 5284 [10.1038/s41467-023-40871-0] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Position-specific carbon isotopes of Murchison amino acids elucidate extraterrestrial abiotic organic synthesis networks." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 355 210-221 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2023.06.010] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "The spatial distribution of soluble organic matter and their relationship to minerals in the asteroid (162173) Ryugu." Earth, Planets and Space 75 (1): 73 [10.1186/s40623-023-01792-w] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "PAHs, hydrocarbons, and dimethylsulfides in Asteroid Ryugu samples A0106 and C0107 and the Orgueil (CI1) meteorite." Earth, Planets and Space 75 (1): 28 [Full Text] [10.1186/s40623-022-01758-4] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Extraterrestrial Amino Acids and Amines Identified in Asteroid Ryugu Samples Returned by the Hayabusa2 Mission." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 347 42-57 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2023.02.017] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Soluble organic molecules in samples of the carbonaceous asteroid (162173) Ryugu." Science 379 (6634): eabn9033 [Full Text] [10.1126/science.abn9033] [Journal Article/Letter]

2023. "Meteorite Parent Body Aqueous Alteration Simulations of Interstellar Residue Analogs." ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 7 (1): 156-167 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.2c00274] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Deuterium Isotope Fractionation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Meteorites as an Indicator of Interstellar/Protosolar Processing History." Life 12 (9): 1368 [10.3390/life12091368] [Journal Article/Letter]

2022. "Experimental and Theoretical Constraints on Amino Acid Formation from PAHs in Asteroidal Settings." ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 6 468-481 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.1c00329] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Low total abundances and a predominance of n ‐ω‐amino acids in enstatite chondrites: Implications for thermal stability of amino acids in the inner solar system." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 56 (11): 2118–2127 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13757] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Extraterrestrial hydroxy amino acids in CM and CR carbonaceous chondrites." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 56 (6): 1005-1023 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13661] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Amino acid abundances and compositions in iron and stony‐iron meteorites." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 56 (3): 586-600 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13638] [Journal Article/Letter]

2021. "Carbon isotope evidence for the substrates and mechanisms of prebiotic synthesis in the early solar system." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 292 188-202 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2020.09.026] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Analysis of amino acids, hydroxy acids, and amines in CR chondrites." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 55 (11): 2422-2439 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13586] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Abundant extraterrestrial amino acids in the primitive CM carbonaceous chondrite Asuka 12236." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 55 (9): 1979–2006 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13560] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Impact of Phyllosilicates on Amino Acid Formation under Asteroidal Conditions." ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 4 (8): 1398-1407 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.0c00137] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Extraterrestrial organic compounds and cyanide in the CM2 carbonaceous chondrites Aguas Zarcas and Murchison." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 55 (7): 1509-1524 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13531] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "The Renazzo-like carbonaceous chondrites as resources to understand the origin, evolution, and exploration of the solar system." Geochemistry [Full Text] [10.1016/j.chemer.2020.125631] [Journal Article/Letter]

2020. "Extraterrestrial amino acids and L-enantiomeric excesses in the CM2 carbonaceous chondrites Aguas Zarcas and Murchison." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 56 (1): 148–173 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13451] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "The Search for Chiral Asymmetry as a Potential Biosignature in our Solar System." Chemical Reviews 120 4660−4689 [Full Text] [10.1021/acs.chemrev.9b00474] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Methodologies for Analyzing Soluble Organic Compounds in Extraterrestrial Samples: Amino Acids, Amines, Monocarboxylic Acids, Aldehydes, and Ketones." Life 9 (47): 30 pages [Full Text] [10.3390/life9020047] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "New insights into the heterogeneity of the Tagish Lake meteorite: Soluble organic compositions of variously altered specimens." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 54 1283-1302 [10.1111/maps.13276] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Analyses of Aliphatic Aldehydes and Ketones in Carbonaceous Chondrites." ACS Earth & Space Chemistry 3 463-472 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.9b00006] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Molecular distribution, 13C-isotope, and enantiomeric compositions of carbonaceous chondrite monocarboxylic acids." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 54 (2): 415-430 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.13216] [Journal Article/Letter]

2019. "Compound-specific carbon isotope compositions of aldehydes and ketones in the Murchison meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 54 (1): 142-156 [10.1111/maps.13202] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "OSIRIS-REx Contamination Control Strategy and Implementation." Space Science Reviews 214 (1): 19 [Full Text] [10.1007/s11214-017-0439-4] [Journal Article/Letter]

2018. "The Origin and Evolution of Organic Matter in Carbonaceous Chondrites and Links to Their Parent Bodies." Primitive Meteorites and Asteroids 205-271 [Full Text] [10.1016/b978-0-12-813325-5.00003-3] [Article in Book]

2018. "Hydrothermal Decomposition of Amino Acids and Origins of Prebiotic Meteoritic Organic Compounds." ACS Earth & Space Chemistry 2 (6): 588-598 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.8b00025] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Distribution of aliphatic amines in CO, CV, and CK carbonaceous chondrites and relation to mineralogy and processing history." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 52 (12): 2632–2646 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.12959] [Journal Article/Letter]

2017. "Pathways to Meteoritic Glycine and Methylamine." ACS Earth and Space Chemistry 1 (1): 3-13 [Full Text] [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.6b00014] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Meteoritic Amino Acids: Diversity in Compositions Reflects Parent Body Histories." ACS Central Science 2 370-379 [Full Text] [10.1021/acscentsci.6b00074] [Journal Article/Letter]

2016. "Aliphatic Amines in Antarctic CR2, CM2, and CM1/2 Carbonaceous Chondrites." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 189 296-311 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2016.06.018] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Hydrogen and carbon isotopic ratios of polycyclic aromatic compounds in two CM2 carbonaceous chondrites and implications for prebiotic organic synthesis." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 426 101-108 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.epsl.2015.06.027] [Journal Article/Letter]

2015. "Indigenous aliphatic amines in the aqueously altered Orgueil meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 50 1733-1749 [Full Text] [10.1111/maps.12507] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Assessing the origins of aliphatic amines in the Murchison meteorite from their compound-specific carbon isotopic ratios and enantiomeric composition." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 141 331-345 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2014.06.035] [Journal Article/Letter]

2014. "Chirality of meteoritic free and IOM-derived monocarboxylic acids and implications for prebiotic organic synthesis." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 131 1-12 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2014.01.035] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "Purification of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids From Fish Oil Using Silver-Thiolate Chromatographic Material and High Performance Liquid Chromatography." Journal of Chromatography A 1312 18-25 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2013. "The Unique Liquid Chromatographic Properties of Group 11 Transition Metal for the Separation of Unsaturated Organic Compounds." Journal of Separation Science 36 2563-2570 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Separation of Unsaturated Organic Compounds Using Silver-Thiolate Chromatographic Material." Journal of Chromatography A 1240 83-89 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.chroma.2012.03.082] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Efficient HPLC Analysis of Mono-, Di-, and Triglycerides Using Silver-Thiolate Chromatographic Material." Journal of Chromatography A 1240 90-95 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2012. "Thin Layer Chromatography in the Separation of Unsaturated Organic Compounds Using Silver-Thiolate Chromatographic Material." Journal of Chromatography A 1251 240-243 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Cytotoxic and Antiinfective Phenolic Compounds Isolated from Mikania decora (Compositae) and Cremastosperma microcarpum (Annonaceae)." Planta Medica 77 1597-1599 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2011. "Effects of Secondary Alteration on the Composition of Free and IOM-Derived Monocarboxylic Acids in Carbonaceous Chondrites." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75 2309-2323 [Full Text] [10.1016/j.gca.2011.01.040] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Cytotoxic and Anti-infective Compounds Present in Plagiochila disticha (Plagiochilaceae) and Ambrosia peruviana (Asteraceae)." Planta Medica 76 705-707 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "In Vitro and In Vivo Anti-Leishmania Activity of Polysubstituted Synthetic Chalcones." Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 20 100-103 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2010. "Trypanoside, Anti-Tuberculosis, Leishmanicidal and Cytotoxic Activities of Tetrahydrobenzothienopyrimidines." Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry 18 2880-2886 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "A Multipronged Approach to the Study of Peruvian Ethnomedicinal Plants: A Legacy of the ICBG-Peru Project." Journal of Natural Products 72 524-526 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2009. "TBAF-Mediated Aldol Reaction of b-Allenoates: Regio- and Stereoselective Synthesis of (2E, 4E)-4-Carbinol Alkadienoates." Journal of Organic Chemistry 74 4623-4625 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Isolation of Cytotoxic Metabolites from Targeted Peruvian Amazonian Medicinal Plants." Journal of Natural Products 71 102-105 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Antiinfective and Cytotoxic Compounds Present in Blepharodon nitidum (Asclepiadaceae)." Planta Medica 74 407-410 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2008. "Synthesis, Cytotoxicity, and Anti-Trypanosoma cruzi Activity of New Chalcones." Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 51 6230-6234 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

2006. "Aegicerin, the First Oleanane Triterpene with Wide-Ranging Antimycobacterial Activity, Isolated from Clavija procera." Journal of Natural Products 69 845-846 [Full Text] [Journal Article/Letter]

Professional Societies

American Chemical Society

2006 - Present

The Meteoritical Society

2010 - Present

Selected Public Outreach