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Optical Characterization of Cryptoendolithic Chemical Biosignatures on Antarctic Sandstone SurfacesWe have used several non-destructive optical techniques to study the distribution of organic molecules on an Antarctic sandstone sample collected at Battleship Promontory. Cryptoendolithic microorganisms have been found to inhabit rocks in the dry valleys of Antarctica. These dry deserts are an Earth analog to Mars. Future Mars rovers may search for life in the rocks of Mars with similar instrumentation used in this study. Light microscopy was used to determine five distinct regions and to determine textures on the sample. Deep ultraviolet fluorescence spectroscopy was used to scan the rock for the presence of organic molecules. Organic molecules were present in three of the five regions but not in the crust. There were similarities between each region, but each region presented a unique signature. Raman spectroscopy identified the minerals present and also provided more definitive identifications of the organic molecules. X-ray diffraction was also used to definitively identify the minerals present and corroborate the Raman mineral results.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Harju, Ellen R.
(Washington Univ. WA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Summer Student Research Presentations
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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