Kounaves Research Group LL Ori in Gn Orion

Over the past several decades it has become increasingly clear that there may be multiple worlds in our solar system besides Earth that either once had or may still have environments capable of supporting microbial life as we know it. Our current research is focused on two aspects of the search for life in our solar system:

1. In the search for life on Mars, one key question is; how are biologically-produced molecules (biomarkers) altered when exposed to solar ultraviolet radiation in the presence of oxychlorines and their intermediate formation products? To help answer this question we are investigating the “fragmentation” patterns of such altered biogenic compounds which could then be used to identify the original biomarker and thus provide evidence for life on Mars.

2. We are 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.


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Department of Chemistry, Tufts University, Medford, MA, 02155, USA


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