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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Identification of morphological biosignatures in martian analogue field specimens using in situ planetary instrumentation
Authors: Pullan, Derek
Westall, Frances
Hofmann, Beda
Parnell, John
Cockell, Charles S
Edwards, Howell G M
Villar, Susana E Jorge
Schröder, Christian
Cressey, Gordon
Marinangeli, Lucia
Richter, Lutz
Klingelhoefer, Goestar
Contact Email:
Keywords: analogue
in situ
planetary instrumentation
Issue Date: Feb-2008
Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Citation: Pullan D, Westall F, Hofmann B, Parnell J, Cockell CS, Edwards HGM, Villar SEJ, Schröder C, Cressey G, Marinangeli L, Richter L & Klingelhoefer G (2008) Identification of morphological biosignatures in martian analogue field specimens using in situ planetary instrumentation, Astrobiology, 8 (1), pp. 119-156.
Abstract: We have investigated how morphological biosignatures (i.e., features related to life) might be identified with an array of viable instruments within the framework of robotic planetary surface operations at Mars. This is the first time such an integrated lab-based study has been conducted that incorporates space-qualified instrumentation designed for combined in situ imaging, analysis, and geotechnics (sampling). Specimens were selected on the basis of feature morphology, scale, and analogy to Mars rocks. Two types of morphological criteria were considered: potential signatures of extinct life (fossilized microbial filaments) and of extant life (crypto-chasmoendolithic microorganisms). The materials originated from a variety of topical martian analogue localities on Earth, including impact craters, high-latitude deserts, and hydrothermal deposits. Our in situ payload included a stereo camera, microscope, Mössbauer spectrometer, and sampling device (all space-qualified units from Beagle 2), and an array of commercial instruments, including a multi-spectral imager, an X-ray spectrometer (calibrated to the Beagle 2 instrument), a micro-Raman spectrometer, and a bespoke (custom-designed) X-ray diffractometer. All experiments were conducted within the engineering constraints of in situ operations to generate realistic data and address the practical challenges of measurement.
Type: Journal Article
DOI Link:
Rights: This is a copy of an article published in the Astrobiology © 2008 copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Astrobiology is available online at:
Affiliation: University of Leicester
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
Natural History Museum, Switzerland
University of Aberdeen
The Open University
University of Bradford
University of Burgos, Spain
Biological and Environmental Sciences
The Natural History Museum
University of Chieti (G D Annunzio Chieti Pescara)
DLR Institute of Space Systems
Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

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