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Effect of Solar radiation on the Distribution of Raman Biosignatures in Salt Nodules from the Atacama Desert

Baque, Mickael and Sager, Christof and Airo, A. and Schulze-Makuch, D. and de Vera, Jean Pierre Paul (2019) Effect of Solar radiation on the Distribution of Raman Biosignatures in Salt Nodules from the Atacama Desert. 4th Annual Workshop of the Deutsche Astrobiologische Gesellschaft e.V. (DAbG), 26-27 September 2019, Wien.

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The next two rover missions to Mars, ESA/Roscosmos’s ExoMars2020 and NASA’s Mars2020, will carry for the first time Raman spectrometers potentially able to dectect traces of past or present life. To support and interpret future spectroscopic data correctly a better understanding of potential habitable environments and putative biosignatures, using analogue environments such as the Atacama Desert, is of paramount importance. In the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, life has developed adaptive strategies to decreasing amounts of water: from refuges inside or below rocks as endoliths or hypoliths to inside salts in hygroscopic niches (Davila & Schulze-Makuch, 2016). In the hyperarid core one of the last refuges for life are inside salt crusts using deliquescence as a water source or being in the subsurface waiting for transitory episodes of increased moisture (Schulze-Makuch et al., 2018). These adaptive strategies might also apply to putative Martian life which endured a transition from a water rich past to the very harsh surface conditions of the present giving us clues on where to best look for traces of life on the Red Planet. Salt crusts and salt nodules are particularly interesting targets in this regard because they reside on or very near the surface and are thus easily accessible to future robotic missions. In the Atacama, salt nodules have been shown to host photosynthetic organisms containing easily identifiable pigments by Raman spectroscopy such as carotenoids and scytonemin (Vítek et al., 2014). One of the most damaging factors for life and its remains, both in the Atacama and on Mars, is solar radiation. To investigate the spatial distribution of potential Raman signatures in micro-niches we generated georeferenced 3D-reconstructions of the sampling areas using photogrammetry techniques and plotted the dose received according to the nodules’ orientation. We then analysed salt nodule along dry cut north-south thick sections using Raman mapping to infer any relations between the amount of light received and the presence of detectable signal. Preliminary data show an increased presence of carotenoids, scytonemin, and other biomolecules signals on the nodules oriented towards the south, which are the-more-protected sections of the nodules. References Davila, A.F. & Schulze-Makuch, D. (2016) The Last Possible Outposts for Life on Mars. Astrobiology 16:159–168. Schulze-Makuch, D., Wagner, D., Kounaves, S.P., Mangelsdorf, K., Devine, K.G., Vera, J.-P. de, Schmitt-Kopplin, P., Grossart, H.-P., Parro, V., Kaupenjohann, M., Galy, A., Schneider, B., Airo, A., Frösler, J., Davila, A.F., Arens, F.L., Cáceres, L., Cornejo, F.S., Carrizo, D., Dartnell, L., DiRuggiero, J., Flury, M., Ganzert, L., Gessner, M.O., Grathwohl, P., Guan, L., Heinz, J., Hess, M., Keppler, F., Maus, D., McKay, C.P., Meckenstock, R.U., Montgomery, W., Oberlin, E.A., Probst, A.J., Sáenz, J.S., Sattler, T., Schirmack, J., Sephton, M.A., Schloter, M., Uhl, J., Valenzuela, B., Vestergaard, G., Wörmer, L. & Zamorano, P. (2018) Transitory microbial habitat in the hyperarid Atacama Desert. PNAS 115:2670–2675. Vítek, P., Jehlička, J., Ascaso, C., Mašek, V., Gómez-Silva, B., Olivares, H. & Wierzchos, J. (2014) Distribution of scytonemin in endolithic microbial communities from halite crusts in the hyperarid zone of the Atacama Desert, Chile. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 90:351–366.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/129962/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Effect of Solar radiation on the Distribution of Raman Biosignatures in Salt Nodules from the Atacama Desert
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Baque, MickaelMickael.Baque (at) dlr.dehttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6696-6030
Sager, ChristofCenter of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Technical University BerlinUNSPECIFIED
Airo, A.Center of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Technical University Berlin, 10623 Berlin, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
Schulze-Makuch, D.TU Berlin, GermanyUNSPECIFIED
de Vera, Jean Pierre Pauljean-pierre.devera (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:Atacama, Mars, Raman spectroscopy, biosignatures, salt nodules
Event Title:4th Annual Workshop of the Deutsche Astrobiologische Gesellschaft e.V. (DAbG)
Event Location:Wien
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:26-27 September 2019
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Space Exploration
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Planetary Evolution and Life (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Leitungsbereich PF
Deposited By: Baqué, Dr. Mickael
Deposited On:01 Nov 2019 08:10
Last Modified:01 Nov 2019 08:10

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