24 May 2023
"Searching for life on mars using Raman spectroscopy"
Is there life on Mars? Mars, known as the Red Planet, seems like a cold and barren desert, but thanks to numerous space missions, we know more about Mars than ever before. Previous Mars missions revealed that liquid water once existed on the surface of Mars, which may have provided an environment suitable for microbial life. Therefore, recent rover missions such as Mars 2020 (NASA) and ExoMars 2028 (ESA) are dedicated to searching for life evidence on the Red Planet. These rovers carry new analytical instruments, including Raman spectrometers, which can identify water and any evidence of life. As NASA and ESA prepare for the Mars Sample Return Mission in the 2030s to bring the first Martian samples to Earth, we, as astrobiologists, study Mars-like environments on Earth (e.g., Antarctica, Atacama Desert, Salda Lake). These places are called Martian analogues, and their environmental conditions are similar to what we might find on Mars. In this talk, we will explore how Mars analogue samples can support scientific investigations on Mars and how Raman spectroscopy can be used to identify key evidence for water and life in these samples. Join us on this exciting journey as we explore the possibility of life on Mars!
I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University, studying planetary analogue samples using vibrational spectroscopy in the Yeşilbaş Lab. I obtained a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Liège, Belgium, where my dissertation focused on the detection of organics in rocks/minerals by Raman spectroscopy in preparation for robotic exploration missions on Mars.