The Center for Astrobiology begins its participation in the Antarctic Campaign 2017-2018

CAB researchers Miriam García Villadangos and Miguel Ángel Fernández Martínez, today began their journey to Antarctica to participate in the XXXI Antarctic Campaign (2017-2018) that started the past month of November. There they will study the Antarctic Nunataks as terrestrial analogues of Mars.

They will do so with the SOLID instrument (Signs Of Life Detector - Detector of signs of life) in which the CAB has been working for several years and which was created with the aim of detecting traces of past or present life on Mars. It is an instrument that allows in situ analysis of several samples (rock, soil, dust, ice) by means of an immunological microchip, the LCDChip (Life Detector Chip or life detector chip). To improve the concept, selection and development of new LDChip sensor antibodies, it is necessary to study geomicrobiology and traces of life in terrestrial environments that are analogous to current or past Mars.

One of those analogous environments are the Antarctic Nunataks, the object of study in this campaign. These are areas of bare rock that protrude from the ice and snow cover and that survive extreme conditions for life, such as temperatures below zero degrees most of the year, high UV radiation, a shortage of liquid water or nutrient limitation.

To evaluate the nunataks will be carried out samples with the LDChip in the Spanish Antarctic Base "Juan Carlos I", managed by the CSIC, and that will later be examined in the laboratory.

This campaign will also serve to test again and validate the SOLID instrument, which has been tested previously in places such as the Atacama Desert (Chile), Deception Island (Antarctica), the river Tinto (Huelva) or in the Canadian Arctic.


 

Fuente: UCC-CAB

 

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