Mineral-molecule interactions: an heterogeneous approach to detect biomolecules in space

In Webseminar by admin

Wednesday 17 February 2021 14:30 CET *NEW TIME SLOT*
John Robert Brucato, INAF, OA-Arcetri

Laboratory studies of biomarkers under space simulated conditions provide hints on their stability and preservation in space.  Mineral surfaces are energetic environments that can assist prebiotic organization by adsorbing selected molecules and allowing their concentration and chemical evolution, possibly toward complex (pre)biological systems. This dynamic rocky environment can also play a crucial role as promoter of chemical reactions towards increasing molecular complexity. Moreover, the presence of minerals can mediate the effects of electromagnetic radiation and influence molecular photostability, catalyzing photoreaction or protecting molecules against degradation. Such interactions are responsible for the preservation/degradation mechanisms of organic molecules in space. In particular, the discovery of organic molecules on asteroids and comets confirms their role as transport and delivery vehicles of building blocks of life on Earth and possibly on other bodies of the Solar System. Moreover, the study of molecular biomarkers in a Martian-like environment allows us to explore the conditions for their detection by next NASA and ESA rovers that will explore the Martian surface and subsurface, and the selection of the most interesting samples to analyze in situ or/and collect for sample return. In this talk recent progresses on the role of minerals in driving the chemical complexity in space will be presented.

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