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1.
Life Sci Space Res (Amst) ; 34: 53-67, 2022 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35940690

RESUMO

The detection and analysis of extraterrestrial life are important issues of space science. Mars is among the most important planets to explore for extraterrestrial life, owing both to its physical properties and to its ancient and present environments as revealed by previous exploration missions. In this paper, we present a comparative study of methods for detecting extraterrestrial life and life-related substances. To this end, we have classified and summarized the characteristics targeted for the detection of extraterrestrial life in solar system exploration mission and the methods used to evaluate them. A summary table is presented. We conclude that at this moment (i) there is no realistic single detection method capable of concluding the discovery of extraterrestrial life, (ii) no single method has an advantage over the others in all respects, and (iii) there is no single method capable of distinguishing extraterrestrial life from terrestrial life. Therefore, a combination of complementary methods is essential. We emphasize the importance of endeavoring to detect extraterrestrial life without overlooking possible alien life forms, even at the cost of tolerating false positives. Summaries of both the targets and the detection methods should be updated continuously, and comparative studies of both should be pursued. Although this study assumes Mars to be a model site for the primary environment for life searches, both the targets and detection methods described herein will also be useful for searching for extraterrestrial life in any celestial environment and for the initial inspection of returned samples.


Assuntos
Marte , Voo Espacial , Exobiologia , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Planetas , Sistema Solar
2.
Life Sci Space Res (Amst) ; 34: 87-103, 2022 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35940692

RESUMO

Space agencies are preparing to send humans to the Moon (16% Earth's gravity) and Mars (38% Earth's gravity), however, there is limited evidence regarding the effects of hypogravity on the skeletal system. A novel rodent partial weight-bearing (PWB) model may provide insight into how human bone responds to hypogravity. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review investigating the effect of PWB on the structure and function of rodent bone. Five online databases were searched with the following inclusion criteria: population (rodents), intervention (PWB for ≥1-week), control (full weight-bearing), outcomes (bone structure/function), and study design (animal intervention). Of the 2,993 studies identified, eight were included. The main findings were that partial weight-bearing exposure for 21-28 days at 20%, 40%, and 70% of full loading causes: (1) loss of bone mineral density, (2) loss of trabecular bone volume, thickness, number, and increased separation, (3) loss of cortical area and thickness, and 4) reduced bone stiffness and strength. These findings predominately relate the tibia/femur of young/mature female mice, however, their deconditioning response appeared similar, but not identical, to male rats. A dose-response trend was frequently observed between the magnitude of deconditioning and PWB level. The deconditioning patterns in PWB resembled those in rodents and humans exposed to microgravity and microgravity analogs. The present findings suggest that countermeasures against bone deconditioning may be required for humans exploring the Lunar and Martian surfaces.


Assuntos
Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Marte , Animais , Densidade Óssea , Feminino , Humanos , Hipogravidade , Masculino , Camundongos , Ratos , Roedores , Suporte de Carga/fisiologia
3.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 12379, 2022 Jul 27.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35896693

RESUMO

Missions to detect extraterrestrial life are being designed to visit Europa and Enceladus in the next decades. The contact between the mission payload and the habitable subsurface of these satellites involves significant risk of forward contamination. The standardization of protocols to decontaminate ice cores from planetary field analogs of icy moons, and monitor the contamination in downstream analysis, has a direct application for developing clean approaches crucial to life detection missions in these satellites. Here we developed a comprehensive protocol that can be used to monitor and minimize the contamination of Arctic ice cores in processing and downstream analysis. We physically removed the exterior layers of ice cores to minimize bioburden from sampling. To monitor contamination, we constructed artificial controls and applied culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques such as 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. We identified 13 bacterial contaminants, including a radioresistant species. This protocol decreases the contamination risk, provides quantitative and qualitative information about contamination agents, and allows validation of the results obtained. This study highlights the importance of decreasing and evaluating prokaryotic contamination in the processing of polar ice cores, including in their use as analogs of Europa and Enceladus.


Assuntos
Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Júpiter , Exobiologia/métodos , Planetas , RNA Ribossômico 16S/genética
4.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 12580, 2022 Jul 22.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35869252

RESUMO

Understanding the impact of long-term exposure of microorganisms to space is critical in understanding how these exposures impact the evolution and adaptation of microbial life under space conditions. In this work we subjected Nostoc sp. CCCryo 231-06, a cyanobacterium capable of living under many different ecological conditions, and also surviving in extreme ones, to a 23-month stay at the International Space Station (the Biology and Mars Experiment, BIOMEX, on the EXPOSE-R2 platform) and returned it to Earth for single-cell genome analysis. We used microfluidic technology and single cell sequencing to identify the changes that occurred in the whole genome of single Nostoc cells. The variant profile showed that biofilm and photosystem associated loci were the most altered, with an increased variant rate of synonymous base pair substitutions. The cause(s) of these non-random alterations and their implications to the evolutionary potential of single bacterial cells under long-term cosmic exposure warrants further investigation.


Assuntos
Exobiologia , Nostoc , Planeta Terra , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Nostoc/genética , Raios Ultravioleta
5.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3782, 2022 07 12.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35821210

RESUMO

The formation and differentiation of the crust of Mars in the first tens of millions of years after its accretion can only be deciphered from incredibly limited records. The martian breccia NWA 7034 and its paired stones is one of them. This meteorite contains the oldest martian igneous material ever dated: ~4.5 Ga old. However, its source and geological context have so far remained unknown. Here, we show that the meteorite was ejected 5-10 Ma ago from the north-east of the Terra Cimmeria-Sirenum province, in the southern hemisphere of Mars. More specifically, the breccia belongs to the ejecta deposits of the Khujirt crater formed 1.5 Ga ago, and it was ejected as a result of the formation of the Karratha crater 5-10 Ma ago. Our findings demonstrate that the Terra Cimmeria-Sirenum province is a relic of the differentiated primordial martian crust, formed shortly after the accretion of the planet, and that it constitutes a unique record of early crustal processes. This province is an ideal landing site for future missions aiming to unravel the first tens of millions of years of the history of Mars and, by extension, of all terrestrial planets, including the Earth.


Assuntos
Marte , Meteoroides , Planeta Terra , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Geologia
7.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 119(30): e2119734119, 2022 Jul 26.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35867830

RESUMO

Recent years have witnessed the detection of an increasing number of complex organic molecules in interstellar space, some of them being of prebiotic interest. Disentangling the origin of interstellar prebiotic chemistry and its connection to biochemistry and ultimately, to biology is an enormously challenging scientific goal where the application of complexity theory and network science has not been fully exploited. Encouraged by this idea, we present a theoretical and computational framework to model the evolution of simple networked structures toward complexity. In our environment, complex networks represent simplified chemical compounds and interact optimizing the dynamical importance of their nodes. We describe the emergence of a transition from simple networks toward complexity when the parameter representing the environment reaches a critical value. Notably, although our system does not attempt to model the rules of real chemistry nor is dependent on external input data, the results describe the emergence of complexity in the evolution of chemical diversity in the interstellar medium. Furthermore, they reveal an as yet unknown relationship between the abundances of molecules in dark clouds and the potential number of chemical reactions that yield them as products, supporting the ability of the conceptual framework presented here to shed light on real scenarios. Our work reinforces the notion that some of the properties that condition the extremely complex journey from the chemistry in space to prebiotic chemistry and finally, to life could show relatively simple and universal patterns.


Assuntos
Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Origem da Vida
8.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3274, 2022 06 14.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35701394

RESUMO

Life in the clouds of Venus, if present in sufficiently high abundance, must be affecting the atmospheric chemistry. It has been proposed that abundant Venusian life could obtain energy from its environment using three possible sulfur energy-metabolisms. These metabolisms raise the possibility of Venus's enigmatic cloud-layer SO2-depletion being caused by life. We here couple each proposed energy-metabolism to a photochemical-kinetics code and self-consistently predict the composition of Venus's atmosphere under the scenario that life produces the observed SO2-depletion. Using this photo-bio-chemical kinetics code, we show that all three metabolisms can produce SO2-depletions, but do so by violating other observational constraints on Venus's atmospheric chemistry. We calculate the maximum possible biomass density of sulfur-metabolising life in the clouds, before violating observational constraints, to be ~10-5 - 10-3 mg m-3. The methods employed are equally applicable to aerial biospheres on Venus-like exoplanets, planets that are optimally poised for atmospheric characterisation in the near future.


Assuntos
Vênus , Atmosfera/química , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno/química , Planetas , Enxofre
9.
Astrobiology ; 22(7): 889-900, 2022 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35675644

RESUMO

The concept of habitability is now widely used to describe zones in a solar system in which planets with liquid water can sustain life. Because habitability does not explicitly incorporate the origin of life, this article proposes a new word-urability-which refers to the conditions that allow life to begin. The utility of the word is tested by applying it to combinations of multiple geophysical and geochemical factors that support plausible localized zones that are conducive to the chemical reactions and molecular assembly processes required for the origin of life. The concept of urable worlds, planetary bodies that can sustain an arising of life, is considered for bodies in our own solar system and exoplanets beyond.


Assuntos
Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Planetas , Evolução Planetária , Exobiologia , Origem da Vida , Sistema Solar , Água
10.
Astrobiology ; 22(7): 838-850, 2022 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35731161

RESUMO

Brines at or near the surface of present-day Mars are a potential explanation for seasonally recurring dark streaks on the walls of craters, termed recurring slope lineae (RSL). Deliquescence and freezing point depression are possible drivers of brine stability, attributable to the high salinity observed in martian regolith including chlorides and perchlorates. Investigation of life, which may inhabit RSL, and the cellular mechanisms necessary for survival, must consider the tolerance of highly variable hydration, freeze-thaw cycles, and high osmolarity in addition to the anaerobic, oligotrophic, and irradiated environment. We propose the saltpan, an ephemeral, hypersaline wetland as an analogue for putative RSL hydrology. Saltpan sediment archaeal and bacterial communities showed tolerance of the Mars-analogous atmosphere, hydration, minerology, salinity, and temperature. Although active growth and a shift to well-adapted taxa were observed, susceptibility to low-concentration chloride and perchlorate addition suggested that such a composition was insufficient for beneficial water retention relative to added salt stress.


Assuntos
Marte , Microbiota , Cloretos/toxicidade , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Percloratos
11.
Phys Chem Chem Phys ; 24(28): 16979-16987, 2022 Jul 21.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35731548

RESUMO

In view of the existing controversy around the origin of the photosynthesis and, therefore, the first photosynthetic pigments, our work focuses on the theoretical study of a hypothetical first pigment, simpler than those existing today, that collects energy from solar radiation on Earth-like exoplanets. Our theoretical results show that there could exist geochemical conditions that allow the abiotic formation of a primeval pigment that might become sufficiently abundant in the early stages of habitable rocky exoplanets. These conditions would place this pigment before the appearance of life in a very young planet, thanks to chemical routes instead of biochemical transformations. Thus, our results may refute the currently accepted hypothesis that the complex biomolecules that allowed the photosynthesis to be carried out were synthesized through complex and evolved metabolic pathways. In addition, we show that the proposed primeval pigment, which we call Phot0, is also a precursor of the more evolved pigments known today on Earth and demonstrate, for the first time, an abiotic chemical route leading to tetrapyrroles not involving pyrrole derivatives. Our proposal places simple and very abundant raw materials in never-before-proposed geochemical conditions that lead to the formation of biomolecules of biological interest.


Assuntos
Planeta Terra , Planetas , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Modelos Teóricos , Fotossíntese
12.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3639, 2022 06 25.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35752637

RESUMO

In-situ study of comet 1P/Halley during its 1986 apparition revealed a surprising abundance of organic coma species. It remained unclear, whether or not these species originated from polymeric matter. Now, high-resolution mass-spectrometric data collected at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by ESA's Rosetta mission unveil the chemical structure of complex cometary organics. Here, we identify an ensemble of individual molecules with masses up to 140 Da while demonstrating inconsistency of the data with relevant amounts of polymeric matter. The ensemble has an average composition of C1H1.56O0.134N0.046S0.017, identical to meteoritic soluble organic matter, and includes a plethora of chain-based, cyclic, and aromatic hydrocarbons at an approximate ratio of 6:3:1. Its compositional and structural properties, except for the H/C ratio, resemble those of other Solar System reservoirs of organics-from organic material in the Saturnian ring rain to meteoritic soluble and insoluble organic matter -, which is compatible with a shared prestellar history.


Assuntos
Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Meteoroides , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno/química , Espectrometria de Massas , Sistema Solar
13.
Astrobiology ; 22(8): 962-980, 2022 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35671513

RESUMO

We present thermophysical, biological, and chemical observations of ice and brine samples from five compositionally diverse hypersaline lakes in British Columbia's interior plateau. Possessing a spectrum of magnesium, sodium, sulfate, carbonate, and chloride salts, these low-temperature high-salinity lakes are analogs for planetary ice-brine environments, including the ice shells of Europa and Enceladus and ice-brine systems on Mars. As such, understanding the thermodynamics and biogeochemistry of these systems can provide insights into the evolution, habitability, and detectability of high-priority astrobiology targets. We show that biomass is typically concentrated in a layer near the base of the ice cover, but that chemical and biological impurities are present throughout the ice. Coupling bioburden, ionic concentration, and seasonal temperature measurements, we demonstrate that impurity entrainment in the ice is directly correlated to ice formation rate and parent fluid composition. We highlight unique phenomena, including brine supercooling, salt hydrate precipitation, and internal brine layers in the ice cover, important processes to be considered for planetary ice-brine environments. These systems can be leveraged to constrain the distribution, longevity, and habitability of low-temperature solar system brines-relevant to interpreting spacecraft data and planning future missions in the lens of both planetary exploration and planetary protection.


Assuntos
Exobiologia , Júpiter , Planeta Terra , Ecossistema , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno/química , Lagos
16.
Astrobiology ; 22(S1): S186-S216, 2022 06.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35653292

RESUMO

The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Sample Safety Assessment Framework (SSAF) has been developed by a COSPAR appointed Working Group. The objective of the sample safety assessment would be to evaluate whether samples returned from Mars could be harmful for Earth's systems (e.g., environment, biosphere, geochemical cycles). During the Working Group's deliberations, it became clear that a comprehensive assessment to predict the effects of introducing life in new environments or ecologies is difficult and practically impossible, even for terrestrial life and certainly more so for unknown extraterrestrial life. To manage expectations, the scope of the SSAF was adjusted to evaluate only whether the presence of martian life can be excluded in samples returned from Mars. If the presence of martian life cannot be excluded, a Hold & Critical Review must be established to evaluate the risk management measures and decide on the next steps. The SSAF starts from a positive hypothesis (there is martian life in the samples), which is complementary to the null-hypothesis (there is no martian life in the samples) typically used for science. Testing the positive hypothesis includes four elements: (1) Bayesian statistics, (2) subsampling strategy, (3) test sequence, and (4) decision criteria. The test sequence capability covers self-replicating and non-self-replicating biology and biologically active molecules. Most of the investigations associated with the SSAF would need to be carried out within biological containment. The SSAF is described in sufficient detail to support planning activities for a Sample Receiving Facility (SRF) and for preparing science announcements, while at the same time acknowledging that further work is required before a detailed Sample Safety Assessment Protocol (SSAP) can be developed. The three major open issues to be addressed to optimize and implement the SSAF are (1) setting a value for the level of assurance to effectively exclude the presence of martian life in the samples, (2) carrying out an analogue test program, and (3) acquiring relevant contamination knowledge from all Mars Sample Return (MSR) flight and ground elements. Although the SSAF was developed specifically for assessing samples from Mars in the context of the currently planned NASA-ESA MSR Campaign, this framework and the basic safety approach are applicable to any other Mars sample return mission concept, with minor adjustments in the execution part related to the specific nature of the samples to be returned. The SSAF is also considered a sound basis for other COSPAR Planetary Protection Category V, restricted Earth return missions beyond Mars. It is anticipated that the SSAF will be subject to future review by the various MSR stakeholders.


Assuntos
Marte , Voo Espacial , Teorema de Bayes , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Pesquisa Espacial
17.
Anal Chim Acta ; 1209: 339003, 2022 May 29.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35569840

RESUMO

The 2020s could be called, with little doubt, the "Mars decade". No other period in space exploration history has experienced such interest in placing orbiters, rovers and landers on the Red Planet. In 2021 alone, the Emirates' first Mars Mission (the Hope orbiter), the Chinese Tianwen-1 mission (orbiter, lander and rover), and NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover reached Mars. The ExoMars mission Rosalind Franklin rover is scheduled for launch in 2022. Beyond that, several other missions are proposed or under development. Among these, MMX to Phobos and the very important Mars Sample Return can be cited. One of the key mission objectives of the Mars 2020 and ExoMars 2022 missions is the detection of traces of potential past or present life. This detection relies to a great extent on the analytical results provided by complementary spectroscopic techniques. The development of these novel instruments has been carried out in step with the analytical study of terrestrial analogue sites and materials, which serve to test the scientific capabilities of spectroscopic prototypes while providing crucial information to better understand the geological processes that could have occurred on Mars. Being directly involved in the development of three of the first Raman spectrometers to be validated for space exploration missions (Mars 2020/SuperCam, ExoMars/RLS and RAX/MMX), the present review summarizes some of the most relevant spectroscopy-based analyses of terrestrial analogues carried out over the past two decades. Therefore, the present work describes the analytical results gathered from the study of some of the most distinctive terrestrial analogues of Martian geological contexts, as well as the lessons learned mainly from ExoMars mission simulations conducted at representative analogue sites. Learning from the experience gained in the described studies, a general overview of the scientific outcome expected from the spectroscopic system developed for current and forthcoming planetary missions is provided.


Assuntos
Marte , Voo Espacial , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno/química , Análise Espectral Raman/métodos
18.
Anal Chim Acta ; 1209: 339837, 2022 May 29.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35569848

RESUMO

The SuperCam instrument, onboard the Perseverance rover (Mars 2020 mission) is designed to perform remote analysis on the Martian surface employing several spectroscopic techniques such as Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), Time-Resolved Raman (TRR), Time-Resolved Fluorescence (TRF) and Visible and Infrared (VISIR) reflectance. In addition, SuperCam also acquires high-resolution images using a color remote micro-imager (RMI) as well as sounds with its microphone. SuperCam has three main subsystems, the Mast Unit (MU) where the laser for chemical analysis and collection optics are housed, the Body Unit (BU) where the different spectrometers are located inside the rover, and the SuperCam Calibration Target (SCCT) located on the rover's deck to facilitate calibration tests at similar ambient conditions as the analyzed samples. To perform adequate calibrations on Mars, the 22 mineral samples included in the complex SCCT assembly must have a very homogeneous distribution of major and minor elements. The analysis and verification of such homogeneity for the 5-6 replicates of the samples included in the SCCT has been the aim of this work. To verify the physic-chemical homogeneity of the calibration targets, micro Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) imaging was first used on the whole surface of the targets, then the relative abundances of the detected elements were computed on 20 randomly distributed areas of 100 × 100 µm. For those targets showing a positive Raman response, micro-Raman spectroscopy imaging was performed on the whole surface of the targets at a resolution of 100 × 100 µm. The %RSD values (percent of relative standard deviation of mean values) for the major elements measured with EDXRF were compared with similar values obtained by two independent LIBS set-ups at spot sizes of 300 µm in diameter. The statistical analysis showed which elements were homogeneously distributed in the 22 mineral targets of the SCCT, providing their uncertainty values for further calibration. Moreover, nine of the 22 targets showed a good Raman response and their mineral distributions were also studied. Those targets can be also used for calibration purposes of the Raman part of SuperCam using the wavenumbers of their main Raman bands proposed in this work.


Assuntos
Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Marte , Calibragem , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno/química , Minerais/análise , Análise Espectral Raman/métodos
19.
Nature ; 605(7909): 196, 2022 May.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35508726
20.
PLoS One ; 17(5): e0268199, 2022.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35613093

RESUMO

Scientists and astronomers have attached great importance to the task of discovering new exoplanets, even more so if they are in the habitable zone. To date, more than 4300 exoplanets have been confirmed by NASA, using various discovery techniques, including planetary transits, in addition to the use of various databases provided by space and ground-based telescopes. This article proposes the development of a deep learning system for detecting planetary transits in Kepler Telescope light curves. The approach is based on related work from the literature and enhanced to validation with real light curves. A CNN classification model is trained from a mixture of real and synthetic data. The model is then validated only with unknown real data. The best ratio of synthetic data is determined by the performance of an optimisation technique and a sensitivity analysis. The precision, accuracy and true positive rate of the best model obtained are determined and compared with other similar works. The results demonstrate that the use of synthetic data on the training stage can improve the transit detection performance on real light curves.


Assuntos
Aprendizado Profundo , Telescópios , Exobiologia/métodos , Meio Ambiente Extraterreno , Planetas
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