Raman spectroscopic analysis of minerals and organic molecules of relevance to astrobiology

Alajtal, A. I. and Edwards, H. G. M. and Scowen, I. J. (2010) Raman spectroscopic analysis of minerals and organic molecules of relevance to astrobiology. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 397 (1). pp. 215-221. ISSN 1618-2642

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00216-009-3362-z

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Characteristic geological features and hydrated minerals recently found on the surface of Mars by the NASA planetary rovers Spirit and Opportunity suggest that a possible biosphere could have once existed there. Analytical instrumentation protocols for the unequivocal detection of biomarkers in suitable geological matrices are critical for future unmanned explorations, including the forthcoming ESA-ExoMars mission scheduled for 2018. Raman spectroscopy is currently a part of the Pasteur instrumentation suite of the ExoMars mission scheduled for 2018 for the remote detection of extant or extinct life signatures in the Martian surface and subsurface. Terrestrial analogues of Martian sites have been identified, and the biogeological modifications incurred as a result of extremophilic survival activity have been studied. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are recognised as a class of degradation product that occur from biological processes terrestrially. In this work, various concentrations of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in matrices of gypsum, calcite and quartz have been investigated by Raman microspectrometry to determine the lowest detectable organic levels. The studies are conceived in simulation of their potential PAHs identification in geobiological conditions in Martian scenarios. Two laser source wavelengths, namely, 785 and 633 nm, were adopted to excite Raman spectra from the PAHs, which represent degraded carbons and therefore potentially provide a key bimolecular marker of ancient life. © 2009 Springer-Verlag.

Keywords:Analytical Instrumentation, Biological process, Degradation products, ExoMars mission, Geological features, Instrumentation suite, Laser sources, Mars analogue, Martian surface, Organic molecules, Planetary rovers, Polyaromatic hydrocarbons, Raman microspectrometry, Raman spectra, Raman spectroscopic, Remote detection, Surface of Mars, Unmanned explorations, Carbonate minerals, Gypsum, Hydrates, Hydrocarbons, Instruments, Minerals, NASA, Oxide minerals, Photodegradation, Planetary landers, Quartz, Raman scattering, Raman spectroscopy, Spectroscopic analysis, Organic minerals, biological marker, calcium carbonate, calcium sulfate, mineral, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, silicon dioxide, biology, chemistry, conference paper, Raman spectrometry, space flight, Biological Markers, Exobiology, Polycyclic Hydrocarbons, Aromatic, Space Flight, Space Simulation, Spectrum Analysis, Raman, Emmelichthyidae
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F100 Chemistry
Divisions:College of Science > School of Chemistry
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ID Code:13031
Deposited On:19 Mar 2014 19:17

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