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Experimental clues for detecting biosignatures on Mars

J.-C. Viennet1,2,

1Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, UMR 7590, Institut de Minéralogie, Physique des Matériaux et Cosmochimie, Paris, France
2Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale, CNRS UMR 8220, Institut des Matériaux de Paris, Sorbonne Université, F-75005 Paris, France

S. Bernard1,

1Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, UMR 7590, Institut de Minéralogie, Physique des Matériaux et Cosmochimie, Paris, France

C. Le Guillou3,

3Université de Lille, CNRS, INRA, ENSCL, UMR 8207 - UMET - Unité Matériaux et Transformations, F-59000 Lille, France

P. Jacquemot1,2,

1Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, UMR 7590, Institut de Minéralogie, Physique des Matériaux et Cosmochimie, Paris, France
2Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale, CNRS UMR 8220, Institut des Matériaux de Paris, Sorbonne Université, F-75005 Paris, France

E. Balan1,

1Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, UMR 7590, Institut de Minéralogie, Physique des Matériaux et Cosmochimie, Paris, France

L. Delbes1,

1Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, UMR 7590, Institut de Minéralogie, Physique des Matériaux et Cosmochimie, Paris, France

B. Rigaud4,

4Institut des Matériaux de Paris Centre, Sorbonne Université, F-75005 Paris, France

T. Georgelin5,

5Laboratoire de Réactivité de Surface, CNRS, UMR 7197, Institut des Matériaux de Paris, Sorbonne Université, F-75005 Paris, France

M. Jaber2

2Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale, CNRS UMR 8220, Institut des Matériaux de Paris, Sorbonne Université, F-75005 Paris, France

Affiliations  |  Corresponding Author  |  Cite as  |  Funding information

Viennet, J.-C., Bernard, S., Le Guillou, C., Jacquemot, P., Balan, E., Delbes, L., Rigaud, B., Georgelin, T., Jaber, M. (2019) Experimental clues for detecting biosignatures on Mars. Geochem. Persp. Let. 12, 28–33.

The authors acknowledge financial support from the program Emergences Sorbonne Universités (Project MarsAtLab - PI: S. Bernard) and the DIM MAP (Project FossilEx - PI: M. Jaber).

Geochemical Perspectives Letters v12  |  doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1931
Received 25 February 2019  |  Accepted 7 November 2019  |  Published 27 November 2019
Copyright © The Authors

Published by the European Association of Geochemistry
under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0




Table 1 Proportions of carbon and nitrogen (in mass).
SampleRNAMg-smectites-
RNA-CO2-200 °C
RNA-CO2-200 °C
Initial mass of organic matter (mg)-150150
Final mass of sample (mg)-2707
%wt C31.6 (±0.07)6.4 (±0.07)52.9 (±0.07)
Initial mass of C (mg)47.447.4
Final mass of C (mg)-17.33.7
% of C preserved36.57.8
%wt N14.9 (±0.02)0.9 (±0.02)5.7 (±0.02)
Initial mass of N (mg)22.322.3
Final mass of N (mg)-2.40.4
% of N preserved10.81.7
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Figure 1 STEM and STXM characterisation of the experimental residues. (a) STEM image of the residues of experiments conducted under CO2 at 200 °C in the presence of Mg-smectites and RNA. (b,c) Maps of minerals and organic compounds (same area as a). (d) STEM images of Mg-smectites. (e) STEM image of sub-micrometric minerals embedded in organic masses. (f) XANES spectra of organic compounds encountered in the residues. The spectrum of RNA is shown for comparison.
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Figure 2 XRD and Mid-IR characterisation of the residues of experiments conducted under CO2 at 200 °C in the presence or absence of RNA. (a) Powder XRD patterns of the synthetic Mg-smectites and of the experimental residues. Values correspond to hkl reflections of the Mg-smectites. (b) Mid-infrared ATR spectra of the starting materials (RNA and Mg-smectites) and of the residues. (c) XRD patterns at 1 atmosphere and under vacuum of the pristine Mg-smectites saturated with NH4+ and of the residues. Values correspond to the 001 reflection.
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Figure 3 Schematic representation of the results of the present experiments.
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