Planetary Chemical Analysis and Astrobiology
The goal of our main research is to understanding how potential chemical biosignatures on the surface of Mars would be altered or destroyed when exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation in the presence of various oxychlorines and their intermediate formation products. Knowing the potential products of biosignature alteration will help in identifying what type of compounds and where to look for them in the search for life on Mars.
Our secondary area of research is focused on developing in-situ analytical instrumentation that is designed to unambiguously detect microbial life and determine the habitability of planetary environments that may be present at the surface and subsurface of Mars, and the oceans of icy-worlds such as Saturn's moon Enceladus or Jupiter's moon Europa.
Liu D, Kounaves SP, 2021, Degradation of amino acids on Mars by UV irradiation in the presence of chloride and oxychlorine salts, Astrobiology, Vol:21, ISSN:1531-1074, Pages:793-801
et al., 2021, Microbial Hotspots in Lithic Microhabitats Inferred from DNA Fractionation and Metagenomics in the Atacama Desert, Microorganisms, Vol:9
et al., 2021, The enceladus orbilander mission concept: Balancing return and resources in the search for life, Planetary Science Journal, Vol:2
et al., 2020, Stable nitrogen and oxygen isotope fractionation during precipitation of nitrate salt from saturated solutions., Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom, Vol:34
Kounaves S, Liu D, Naz N, 2020, Comparative Study of the Ability of Three Martian Simulants to Support Bacterial Growth, Agu