SEMINARY 21-11-2016. The use of combined methods for the search of life on Mars

By Emmanuel Alexis Lalla, from the National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering of Romania.

Day: November 21st, 2016
Hour: 13:30
Venue: Auditorio del Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)
Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial
Ctra de Ajalvir, km 4
28850 Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain.

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Title: The use of combined methods for the search of life on Mars

Abstract: The origin of life is linked to the changing planetary environment on Earth, because life as we know it has been subjected to a variety of perturbations on the planetary surface. In the case of the Earth, volcanism is the primary mechanism triggering geochemical changes and fluid migration on the planet's surface or in it’s near subsurface; in this regard, volcanism and life are inextricably linked. Moreover, several hypothesis about the emergence of life on Earth have been addressed in terms of theoretical and experimental chemistry, from extremophile habitats, like modern volcanic hydrothermal vents and meteorite impact structure. One of the newest hypothesis is the consideration of pumice as a possible substrate for the origin of life, because pumice could have remarkable properties to become a habitat for the earliest communities of microorganisms. The understanding of this topic requires different analytical methods from different points of view, such as structural, morphological, chemical, biological and spectroscopic studies. In this sense, the emerging advance of several technological developments and miniaturization allow us to combine powerful tools like Raman spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, Mossbauer spectroscopy, X ray diffraction and fluorescence in single automated laboratories for extending our research to other planets.

In this talk, I will present a compilation of the research carried out in several volcanic environments in the Canary Islands, such as Las Cañadas, Los Azulejos, La Restinga eruption, etc., by means of portable systems analogous to those on different space missions. Also, I will show some experiments on acid alteration, extreme conditions and geobacteria which have been carried out by using some selected samples. The combination of the different techniques will provide us with almost all the necessary information for the understanding of the geochemical processes involved, and with a possible link between biological activities on Earth and their possible extrapolation to Mars.

Departments and support units

The answer to questions about life and its origin come from the combined efforts of many disciplines

Research areas

The science developed in the CAB is channeled through interdepartmental research lines

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