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Title: ExoFiT trial at the Atacama Desert (Chile): Raman detection of biomarkers by representative prototypes of the ExoMars/Raman Laser Spectrometer
Authors: Veneranda, M.
López Reyes, G.
Saiz, J.
Manrique Martínez, J. A.
Sanz Arranz, A.
Medina, J.
Moral, A.
Seoane, L.
Ibarmia, S.
Rull, F.
Keywords: Analytical chemistry;Astrobiology;Mineralogy;Planetary science
Issue Date: 14-Jan-2021
Publisher: Nature Research Journals
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-81014-z
Published version:
Citation: Scientific Reports 11: 1461(2021)
Abstract: In this work, the analytical research performed by the Raman Laser Spectrometer (RLS) team during the ExoFiT trial is presented. During this test, an emulator of the Rosalind Franklin rover was remotely operated at the Atacama Desert in a Mars-like sequence of scientific operations that ended with the collection and the analysis of two drilled cores. The in-situ Raman characterization of the samples was performed through a portable technology demonstrator of RLS (RAD1 system). The results were later complemented in the laboratory using a bench top RLS operation simulator and a X-Ray diffractometer (XRD). By simulating the operational and analytical constraints of the ExoMars mission, the two RLS representative instruments effectively disclosed the mineralogical composition of the drilled cores (k-feldspar, plagioclase, quartz, muscovite and rutile as main components), reaching the detection of minor phases (e.g., additional phyllosilicate and calcite) whose concentration was below the detection limit of XRD. Furthermore, Raman systems detected many organic functional groups (–C≡N, –NH2 and C–(NO2)), suggesting the presence of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms in the samples. The Raman detection of organic material in the subsurface of a Martian analogue site presenting representative environmental conditions (high UV radiation, extreme aridity), supports the idea that the RLS could play a key role in the fulfilment of the ExoMars main mission objective: to search for signs of life on Mars.
E-ISSN: 2045-2322
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