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Environmental simulations and in situ spectroscopic characterization of potential molecular biosignatures with applications in space missions

Grant number: 16/15054-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2016
Effective date (End): February 28, 2018
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal Investigator:Douglas Galante
Grantee:Maria Fernanda Cerini
Host Institution: Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNPEM). Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovações (Brasil). Campinas , SP, Brazil


In this project, laboratory tests will be performed to investigate the photostability and resilience of biomolecules in simulated extraterrestrial environments using spectroscopic methods. The results will then be used to best define the detectability conditions of spectroscopic biosignatures, with applications for the development of astrobiology experiments in small and low cost space missions. Those missions are in progress by the research group in which this project is inserted, and include stratospheric balloons and Cubesats. Astrobiologically important biomolecules will be selected among several classes - such as amino acids, biological pigments, nucleotide bases, porphyrins, PAH's, and others - and will be submitted to different simulated environments - especially the surface of Mars and the space environment. These experiments will be carried out at the premises of the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS), in particular at the TGM (Toroidal Grating Monochromator) beamline. This experimental station works in the soft X-rays and vacuum-ultraviolet region (3 to 330 eV), and will be used to simulate the space environment conditions, measuring the physical and chemical changes in the exposed biomolecules by UV-Vis reflectance in-situ and as a function of time. The Space and Planetary Simulation Chamber (AstroCam), of the Brazilian Research Unity in Astrobiology (NAP-Astrobio) - IAG/USP, will also be used. With this multiparametric chamber it is possible to control other environment parameters, such as radiation, pressure, gas composition and temperature, measuring the changes in the exposed biomolecules in situ by spectroscopic analysis and other conventional laboratory procedures. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
PULSCHEN, ANDRE ARASHIRO; DE ARAUJO, GABRIEL GUARANY; SOUZA RAMOSDE CARVALHO, ANA CAROLINA; CERINI, MARIA FERNANDA; FONSECA, LUCAS DE MENDONCA; GALANTE, DOUGLAS; RODRIGUES, FABIO. Survival of Extremophilic Yeasts in the Stratospheric Environment during Balloon Flights and in Laboratory Simulations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, v. 84, n. 23, . (16/15054-7, 09/06012-5)
Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
CERINI, Maria Fernanda. Environmental simulations and spectroscopic in situ characterization of potential molecular biosignatures for application in space missions. 2018. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Física de São Carlos (IFSC/BT) São Carlos.

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