Ion desorption from frozen CH4 and N2 after irradiation by MeV heavy ions
PUC Rio, Brazil
Frozen N2 and CH4 ~ 15 K were bombarded by fission fragments from 252Cf (~ 65 MeV). The mass to charge ratio values of the sputtered positive and negative secondary ions were analyzed by TOF mass spectrometry. Target surface was kept at UHV therefore, the frozen of both gas layer was continuously renewed. Spectral data indicated that clusters of positive and negative ion compounds were families of HxNy, HxCy and CxNyHz, which organic hybrid ions are the same ones found in Titan's moon aerosol atmosphere.
The Quantitative analysis of the effect of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) on the rate of formation of Hydroxyls & Water on Moon’s Surface
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, India
With the help of this paper we report the effect of the total Solar Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) density ф on the rate of formation of hydroxyl groups and water on the surface of the moon.We also formulate the average path deviation of the solar wind burst caused by the interplanetary gravitational field and the external elec-tromagnetic field which is also an important parame-ter in calculating the intensity of the Solar Burst.
Probing Chiral Signatures with Astronomical Instrumentation: Life on Earth as Benchmark
1European Southern Observatory, Chile; 2Armagh Observatory, UK
We present precision spectropolarimetry of biotic samples obtained with astronomical instruments of ESO. The signatures of the hipolitic cyanobacteria species Chroococcidiopsis observed in halites with EFOSC2 probe the potential to discover extremophiles elsewhere in the solar system. We compare our laboratory measurements with ultra-high signal-to-noise ratio spectropolarimetric data obtained recently with FORS at the VLT in an pioneering attempt to detect chiral signatures in the Earthshine.
Is the presence of oxygen on an exoplanet a reliable biomarker?
We revisit the validity of the presence of O2 or O3 in the atmosphere of a rocky planet as being a biomarker. Up to now, the false positive that has been identified applies to a planet during a hot greenhouse runaway, which is restricted to planets outside the habitable zone (HZ) of the star, closer to it. In this paper, we explore a new possibility based on abiotic photogeneration of O2 at the surface of a planet that could occur inside the HZ.
Detecting Molecular Signatures of Life on Mars: The Life Marker Chip (LMC) Instrument
Cranfield University, United Kingdom
An antibody assay-based life detection instrument, the Life Marker Chip (LMC), is currently under development by a UK-lead international consortium for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars rover. The organic molecules targeted for Life detection by the LMC are based on an assumption of “Earth-like” Life on Mars – extinct and/or extant. The targets for the LMC have been chosen to represent markers of extinct Life, extant Life, abiotic chemistry and mission-borne Earth contamination.
Possible oxidants at Mars surface and their impact on organic matter
1LISA, Universités Paris-Est Créteil and Paris Diderot, CNRS, Créteil, France; 2LATMOS, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Université Versailles St-Quentin, CNRS, Guyancourt, France
The Viking and Phoenix missions highlight the presence of oxidants in the martian soil. We review the formation pathways and reactivity of oxidants suggested to be present in the martian environment. Based on this review work, we have developed an experimental device to simulate the oxidants formation and reactivity on organics in the martian environment. This work should help to determine the fate of organics and help for the interpretation of the future data of in-situ space missions to Mars.
Mars Organic Molecules Irradiation and Evolution (MOMIE): assessing the processes impacting organic matter at Mars surface and subsurface.
1Laboratoire Inter-universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphérique (LISA), Universités Paris-Est Créteil and Paris Diderot, CNRS, Créteil, France; 2Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS), UPMC Univ. Paris 6 and Université Versailles St-Quentin, CNRS, Guyancourt, France
Early Mars may have offered favorable conditions for prebiotic chemistry and even emergence of life. In the frame of future missions aiming to search for organic relics at the surface/subsurface of Mars despite the current harsh environmental conditions, we developed an experimental set-up simulating interactions between organics and UV radiation, water ice, minerals and oxidants present at the Mars surface. Stability of specific molecules may indicate priority targets to search for on Mars.
Anomalous 15N-rich ammonium in 3.5 Ga cherts from South Africa: pristine biological or post-depositional altered signal?
1Université du Québec, Canada; 2IFP, Rueil Malmaison, France; 3University of Osaka, Japon; 4Université Paris SUD XI, France
Ammonium in mica and feldspars from 3.45 Ga old cherts from Barberton, South Africa show δ15N values from +7.1±0.5‰ to +12.6±0.4 ‰. These values are higher than those found in Early Archean (-6 to +2‰) and related to chemoautolithotrophic activity. This might suggest a different metabolic pathway for ammonium or post-depositional fractionation. K-Ar dating of mica and feldspars give younger Proterozoic ages suggesting that metamorphism resett the K-Ar clock and altered the pristine N signal.
Detecting organic compounds in Mars analogue materials using chemical derivatization and gas chromatography mass spectrometry
1LISA, France; 2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, US; 3Indiana University, US; 4NASA Ames Research Center, US; 5LATMOS, France; 6LGPM Ecole Centrale Paris, France
The search for organics on Mars is a key objective. Instruments devoted to seek them partly rely on GCMS. But a chemical extraction and derivatization step to transform complex organics into volatile species is required. We have developed an extraction and chemical derivatization protocol for the SAM experiment onboard the MSL rover. The derivatization parameters have been optimized under spaceflight constraints. Here we present data on the organic extraction from terrestrial Mars analogues.
Development and Testing of a Subsurface Probe for Detection of Life in Deep Ice
1Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Aachen, Germany; 2Institute of Bioengineering, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Juelich, Germany
The novel concept of a combined drilling and melting probe for subsurface ice research, named “IceMole”, is presented. Its prototype design and the results of its field tests on the Swiss Morteratsch glacier in 2010 are described. There, the IceMole penetrated also dirt/sand layers and drove a curve. Although being currently adapted to terrestrial glaciers and ice shields, it may later be modified for the subsurface in-situ investigation and life detection in extraterrestrial ice.
Screening of filamentous fungi for peptides containing Aib and D,L-Iva
1Dptm. of Food Sciences, IFZ, University of Giessen, Germany; 2Dptm. of Applied Entomology, IFZ, University of Giessen, Germany; 3Dptm. of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Technical University, Berlin, Germany
Presence of abiotically formed Aib (alpha-aminoisobutyric acid) and Iva (isovaline) in CM meteorites is well documented. We use Aib and Iva as specific markers for the detection of a group of fungal polypeptides named peptaibols/peptaibiotics. Mycelia of common filamentous fungi such as Trichoderma/Hypocrea, Acremonium, Emericellopsis or Stilbella were screened for biotic Aib/Iva by GC-MS and HPLC. If positive, sequences of peptides were determined by ESI-MS and intact cell MALDI-TOF-MS.
Marine Cretaceous Stromatolites from the Cupido Formation in northeast México
FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS DE LA TIERRA, UANL, NL
The Cupido Formation is part of an extensive carbonate platform that extends from western Florida through Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila, Mexico. The locality under study is Puerto Mexico, a relatively large oucrop that preserves rudists, calcareous algae, benthic foraminifera and small stromatolites reported from the first time.
Biomineralization in Fossil and Recent Stromatolites from Bahia Concepcion, México
1Facultad de Ciencias de la Tierra, UANL, Mexico; 2Instituto de Geofisica, UNAM
This work reports for the occurrence of fossil stromatolites in mines from the shallow waters from Bahia Concepcion, in Baja California, Mexico, comparing their microfabric, macrostructure, preservation and palaeobiological significance with the recent stromatolites occurring at this locality too and reported a few years ago. Both stromatolites preserve oxyhydroxides of Mn and Ba as todorokite and romanechite, possibly by bacterially-induced precipitation.
1H, 13C and 31P Nuclear Magnetic Biosignatures in Precambrian Cherts
1Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris, France; 2Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, France
Nuclear transitions detected by pulsed EPR show that the structure of aromatic radicals in fossilized microorganisms in cherts is different from those originating from carbonization or from prebiotic synthesis. It is thus possible to distinguish between a biologic origin (primitive bacteria) and an abiotic origin (meteoritic bombardment, Fisher-Tropsch reaction, etc…) for carbonaceous materials, if they exist, trapped in very ancient extraterrestrial sedimentary rocks (Noachian period of Mars).
Clues to a possible biological origin of methane on Mars
The recent detection of CH4 in Mars atmosphere suggests that, either a subsurface hydrothermal activity, or some biogenic sources could be still present. From previous studies suggesting that (i) CH4 is stored under clathrate form in the crust,(ii) little of no H2 is presently released with CH4 and (iii) a large cumulated release rate of serpentinization-derived CH4 over geological times is not consistent with the present D/H value, we argue that a partially biogenic origin of CH4 cannot be excluded.
Phosphatase activity as a biomarker for extant life in extreme environments
1Yokohama National University, Japan; 2Tamagawa University, Japan; 3Tokyo Institute of Technology University, Japan; 4JAMSTEC, Japan; 5Okayama University, Japan
In order to evaluate biological activities in extreme environments, we applied several chemical techniques including amino acid analysis and phosphatases assay. We sampled seawater near Tarama Knoll, during the NT09-10leg2 Cruise in July, 2009. Some of the seawater samples showed higher phosphatase activity and isotope anomaly of methane, which suggest the presence of hydrothermal plume. It was suggested that phosphatase activity can be used as a biomarker of extant life in the extreme environments.
Detection of Molecular Biosignatures Inside Rocks
1Université de Strasbourg, Département chimie, Illkirch, France; 2JAMSTEC, Institute of Biogeosciences, Yokosuka, Japan
We analysed the organic content of two peridotite rocks, from the Ashadze and Logatchev hydrothermal sites. Possible exogenous compounds from external surfaces were eliminated. We detect protein and non-protein amino acids and also long chain n-alkanes. On the basis of chirality and of geological, molecular and radiative environments, we discuss a biotic/abiotic origin. These serpentinized rocks of the Earth upper mantle could be Mars analogs.
Specific DNA detection by SERRS: toward older biosignatures
1Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon : Terre Planètes Environnement, ENS de Lyon, France; 2Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, UMR 5242, INRA, ENS de Lyon
We report the proof of concept of a Surface Enhanced Resonant Raman Scattering (SERRS) hybridization assay leading to the specific detection of a DNA sequence without enzymatic amplification, unlike PCR, which eventually fails when applied on some ancient or processed remains. This assay could avoid expensive and inconclusive amplification trials and enlarge the range of samples suitable for DNA analysis, thus providing new opportunities in investigating ancient and altered DNA.
Raman spectroscopy of Precambrian microfossils from the Draken formation: a useful tool for identifying biosignatures in ancient materials.
1Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire, CNRS-University of Orléans-OSUC, Rue Charles Sadron, 45071, Orléans, France; 2Institute of geochemistry, mineralogy and mineral resources, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Albertov 6, 128 43 Prague 2, Czech Republic; 3Laboratoire de Géologie de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure, UMR 8538, 24 Rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris CEDEX 5
We present the results of non-destructive in situ micro-Raman analyses of carbonaceous-walled microfossils from the Precambrian (700-800 Ma) Draken Formation, Spitsbergen (Svalbard). We demonstrate that the combined signatures detected by Raman spectroscopy - hydroxyapatite, an unstable mineral phase (opal), and variation in the spectrum of the carbonaceous matter - can be considered to be useful biogenicity indicators.
Looking for clues of extinct or extant Martian life: elaboration of an experimental device for the in situ enantiomeric separation of chiral organic molecules of exobiological interest
1GSFC, NASA, United States of America; 2LGPM, Ecole Centrale Paris, France; 3LISA, Université Paris-Est Créteil, France
Looking for extraterrestrial life, particularly on Mars, has become a challenging aim for future space missions. In order to search traces of chiral organic matter at Mars surface and subsurface, we are thus putting forward a chemical derivatization with DMF-DMA of the organic molecules which, when coupled with an analytical step using a chiral chromatographic column and GC-MS analysis, is perfectly adapted to enantiomeric separation within the space constraints.
Early fossilization process of Cyanobacteria associated with modern stromatolites of Alchichica alkaline lake (Mexico)
1Unité d'Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, CNRS UMR8079; 2Institut de Minéralogie et de Physique des Milieux Condensés UMR7590; 3Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris UMR7154
Here, we document the initial steps of the fossilization of Pleurocapsales cells in modern stromatolites. These Cyanobacteria get incrusted in aragonite following a pattern that preserves cell ultrastructures. We used a combination of microscopies, including TEM and synchrotron x-ray microsopy to study the fate of organic matter at the nanoscale during this process. This study may contribute to define relevant traces of life that can be recorded in fossil stromatolites.
Radiation Chemistry of DNA as Origins of Life Connection
Insitiute of Chemistry and Technology, Poland
The ionizing radiation background of the early Earth was higher than now. The role of radiation induced chemical reactions in prebiotic phenomenon is unclear but the modification of already existing compounds is enormous. In case of DNA and earlier RNA one has to consider the direct effect of ionizing radiation and the result of secondary reactions starting from radiolysis products of aqueous medium which absorbs the energy of radiation.
Methanogens: A Model for Martian Life
University of Arkansas, United States of America
One possible explanation for the methane in the Martian atmosphere would be the presence of methanogens in the subsurface. Here we demonstrate that some methanogens can metabolize at low pressure, can metabolize in the presence of perchlorate, can use carbonate as a carbon source, and can survive desiccation at both Earth and Martian surface pressures. The results reported here would seem to indicate that methanogens may be able to survive and possibly thrive in the Martian subsurface.
Characterization physico-chemical and biological of minerals obtained from Rio Tinto’s water (Martian analog)
Unidad Asociada UVA-CSIC, Centro de Astrobiologia, Spain
In the context of a general study of the physico-chemistry of the acidic waters and the precipitation processes using mainly spectroscopic techniques (UMBRELLA’s project ENV.2008.3.1.2.1, FP7-EU) evaporation simulations have been performed at our laboratory from natural waters collected at the source of Rio Tinto. Evaporization and precipitation process was characterized in situ by Raman Spectroscopy and LIBS (Laser-inducted Breakdown Spectroscopy).
Analysis and absorption-interaction of Amino-acids on basaltic mineral surfaces under Martian Atmospheres conditions
Unidad Asociada UVA-CSIC, Centro de Astrobiologia, Spain
The experiments presented here were focused on the study of the degradation and stability of organic material exposed to Martian conditions on basaltic rockcs from Tenerife Island (Spain). The Martian Conditions were achieved by using the Planetary Atmospheric and Surfaces Simulation Chamber (PASC) of the Centro de Astrobiología, Madrid (Spain) and the analysis were performed by Raman spectroscopy and SEM-EDX and IR-Spectroscopy.
Bio-enhanced mineralization: the case of Ca-Mg carbonates to trace life.
1IPGP, UMR 7154 CNRS, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France; 2IMPMC UMR 7590 CNRS, Paris, France.
Mg-Ca carbonates are considered as an important route for the search of trace of life. To unravel the mechanisms and kinetics of bioinduced precipitations of Mg-Ca carbonates, we performed experiments with Sporosacina pasteurii showing 1) encrusting Ca/Mg-phosphates to play a precursor role in the mineralization sequences; 2) the capability of this strain to induce the precipitation of a large diversity of carbonates including dolomite that thus appear to be more ubiquitous than previously anticipated.
Fossil Materials at Air- and Fluid-Bearing Earth-Type Planets
1Yamaguchi University, Japan; 2Ritsumeikan University
Fossil materials from primordial life are carbonates and oxides on the Earth-type planets, where nano-bacteria-like textures with carbon-and oxygen-bearing materials are obtained at rapid growth produced by shock wave reactions. Local air-rich conditions with fluid phase are required for nano-bacteria textures of the Martian meteorites and for fossil-like curved features in the Kuga meteorite.
Three dimensional Raman/molecular fluorescence imaging of modern stromatolites as a tool to link species identification and associated carbonates
1Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France; 2IMPMC UMR 7590 CNRS, Paris, France; 3Unité Ecologie Systématique et Evolution, Université Paris-Sud 11 CNRS UMR 8079, Orsay, France
To explore the role of microorganisms in mineral formation at the microscale, we developed a method coupling 3D imaging of both molecular fluorescence emitted by microorganisms and Raman scattering from associated minerals. With this aim, we use a confocal laser scanning microscope coupled with a Raman spectrometer on modern stromatolites. This method holds promise to unravel the mechanisms of biologically induced mineral formation and to help identifying biosignatures in fossil stromatolites.
Circular Polarization as a Remote Sensing Diagnostic of Chirality
1Space Telescope Science Institute, United States of America; 2National Institute of Standards and Technology, United States of America; 3University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom; 4University of Maryland School of Medicine, United States of America; 5University of Maryland, College Park, United States of America
We discuss circular polarization as a remote sensing biomarker. The remarkable phenomenon of homochirality is likely to be generic to biochemical life, and a pure biosignature as abiotic processes do not result in it. It is amenable to remote sensing using circular polarization spectroscopy. We present empirical measurements of circular polarization arising from strong interactions between light and biological matter (photosynthesis and pigments) and outline a theoretical approach for modeling.
The Role of Carotenoids as Spectroscopic Biosignatures
1Laboratory of Chemistry of Natural Products, Institute of Chemistry, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; 2Astrobiology Laboratory, Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
This work is dedicated to understanding the role of biological organic pigments in the generation of spectroscopic biosignatures. The group of molecules analyzed are the carotenoids, pigments present in several classes of organisms and the focus is on those pigments present in extremophilic microorganisms, good model-organisms to study the survival under extraterrestrial conditions. Their Raman and UV-Vis spectra are considered to evaluate their detectability with the current techniques.
Can Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Be a Biosignature in a Habitable Exoplanet?
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America; 2Rufus Scientific, UK
We explore if the sulfide produced by microorganisms can accumulate to an observable biosignature in a habitable exoplanet.We consider a dry habitable exoplanet partially covered by oceans. On the planet, the volcanic production of hydrogen sulfide is limited by the scarcity of water. In the meantime, in our scenario, microbes can boom in the partial ocean and effectively use the energy gained from the sulfur disproportion and release sulfide as the metabolic byproduct.
Siliceous Fragments in Space Micro-dust: evidence on the Diatom Hypothesis
Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology (CCAB), United Kingdom
Cardiff's collection of interplanetary micro-dust contains numerous siliceous fibres and whiskers, single or in complexes, some embedded in cometary aggregates. Hollow cylindrical fibres ~1x10µm, whiskers over ten times thinner, and EDX spectral carbon differentiates them from astrophysical mineral silicate particles. Similar fibres have been found in the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite. We suggest they are remnants of diatoms released from disintegrating comets or other icy bodies.
1Université de Strasbourg, Département Chimie, Illkirch France; 2JAMSTEC, Institute of Biogeosciences, Yokosuka, Japan
Micro- and sub-micrometer structures were synthesized in our experiments conducted with proton irradiations of CO, N2, H2O. Their analysis led to proteinous and non-proteinous amino acids. We performed enantiomer analysis and we observed their morphology with SEM and AFM. On the basis of geology, chemistry and energy, we propose their possible formation during Archean times and we suggest a search for such biosignatures on Mars.
Planetary Protection and the Search for Life
1NASA Headquarters, United States of America; 2European Space Agency, Planetary Protection Officer; 3Committee on Space Research, Planetary Protection Panel Chair
Life on Earth exists in a much broader range of habitats than was previously understood. Recently-discovered habitats in the subsurface of this planet are similar to subsurface habitats on Mars and possibly other bodies in our solar system such as Enceladus and Europa. International policies protect planets from biological contamination when explored by robotic missions, and set the stage for future human missions. Planetary protection is essential when searching for life in the solar system.
Relevance of antibodies and aptamers based instruments for planetary exploration
1Université de Bordeaux, Observatoire Aquitain des Sciences de l’Univers (OASU), CNRS/INSU, UMR 5804, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux (LAB), 2 rue de l’observatoire, BP 89, F-33271 Floirac Cedex, France; 2Institut des Biomolécules Max Mousseron-IBMM, CNRS, Université de Montpellier 1, Université de Montpellier 2, UMR 5247, place E. Bataillon, CC17006, 34095 Montpellier cedex 5, France; 3Université Bordeaux 1, CNRS/IN2P3, Centre d’Etudes Nucléaires de Bordeaux Gradignan (CENBG), Chemin du Solarium, BP120, 33175 Gradignan, France; 4Département de Pharmacochimie Moléculaire UMR 5063, Institut de Chimie Moléculaire de Grenoble FR 2607, CNRS-Université Grenoble I (Joseph Fourier), 38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France
Antibodies and aptamers based instruments are proposed for future planetary exploration missions. These ligands present many interests in terms of sensitivity, specificity and target diversity, but their use in an environment as harsh as interplanetary space is questioning. Our team has chosen a multidisciplinary approach to assess the effects of space constraints on antibodies and aptamers behavior. Results will especially focus on longtime storage, thermal cycles and cosmic radiations.
Methanogenesis in conditions on Mars
1Centro de Astrobiología, (CSIC-INTA), Spain; 2Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Spain; 3Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
One of the best chemical analogues of Mars on Earth is Rio Tinto due to the predominance of iron and sulfur minerals. We present data demonstrating the presence of methanogenic archaea in the extreme acidic and oxidative environment of the river basin. Our results indicate that methanogenesis is possible in the harsh geochemical conditions on Mars, and could be a plausible biogenic source of the methane detected in that planet’s atmosphere.