This is one : Find traces of life in Martian soil rocks, or at least try to. Because these are not Companies you are looking for But , more or less complex, is synthesized by biological processes. rover He would have made sure and taken the first step (mixtures of methane and carbon) on Mars. If persistence succeeds in finding more complex biomolecules, it means the planet may have experienced the beginnings of more basic organic life. An amazing opportunity!
The problem of UV radiation
The target was one of the next rover to join Mars: Rosalind Franklin. This new rover It carries a set of instruments for performing Raman spectroscopic measurements. The Chemical analysis is a method of identifying the structure of molecules present in a sample. This type of instrument already equips the Perseverance rover. If this method is useful on Earth and is used more widely to detect biomolecules, things seem complicated on Mars.
Because there is a big difference between Mars and Earth: The. If Mars had one, it would be much thinner than Earth. However, Earth’s atmosphere plays an important role in protecting life: it intercepts most of the radiation. (UVR), can be harmful to organisms at high doses.
Is this method of analysis more appropriate for due diligence?
Could biomolecules remain stable under the fire of solar radiation affecting Martian soil? Some studies prior to the mission showed that the regolith had the ability to preserve some biomolecules, although the decay rate was certainly very high in the first centimeters of the surface. Considering this hypothesis, there is another problem connected with this method of analysis. In fact, these experiments were not carried out using Raman spectroscopy to carry out the analyses, although the scientists showed that biomolecules would be detectable despite the atmospheric conditions of Mars.
A team of researchers has therefore come to question the analytical capability of this type of instrument under Martian conditions. Thus a series of experiments (Biomex) were carried out on board. Seven different types of biomolecules were exposed to solar radiation for 469 days outside the station. They were mixed with Martian analogs to better simulate environmental conditions on the Red Planet. The samples were then analyzed by Raman spectroscopy.
The regolith signal overlaps with biomass
During analyzes of samples highly exposed to UVR (simulating the surface of Mars), the researchers realized that this was the relevant signal.The regolith partially or completely masked the signal associated with biomolecules. For example, a particularly strong signal from hematite, A Mars has the most, falling in the same range of values of or other biomolecules, preventing their detection. Models with lots of Analysis was even more difficult. However, this mineral is thought to act as a protective matrix for organic molecules on Mars.
This study, published , showing the difficulty in analyzing samples containing inorganic phases using Raman spectroscopy in the presence of high UVR exposure. On the other hand, samples located at depth, and therefore protected from UV radiation, can be correctly detected by this method.
Diligence can only analyze surface samples, so even if there are biomolecules in the analyzed sample, a biosignature can be completely missed!
Drilling Deeper, Rosalind Franklin’s Solution
Adapting the analytical technique to Raman spectroscopy has also shown good results on Earth, but the equipment still needs to be miniaturized before it can be integrated into a possible Mars mission. Meanwhile, a new data processing approach makes it possible to extract some information from diligently analyzed samples. Otherwise, you will have to wait Scheduled for 2033.