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 three 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 could provide evidence for life on Mars. More>>

2. We are developing microfluidic electroanalytical instrumentation, based on the successful Phoenix Mars lander Wet Chemistry Lab, that is designed to determine the habitability of the subsurface oceans on Saturn's moon Enceladus or Jupiter's moon Europa, by analyzing either a surface sample or the ejected ice particles collected by transits through the plumes. More>>

3. The effects of the: oxidizing soil chemistry; intense UV irradiation; and hyperaridity; on bacterial survival and growth in the Atacama Desert and other extreme environments on Earth and Mars. More>>


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


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