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Detection and Degradation of Adenosine Monophosphate in Perchlorate-Spiked Martian Regolith Analogue, by Deep-Ultraviolet Spectroscopy

Razzell Hollis, Joseph and Fornaro, Teresa and Rapin, William and Wade, Jessica and Vicente-Retortillo, Álvaro and Steele, Andrew and Bhartia, Rohit and Beegle, Luther W. (2021) Detection and Degradation of Adenosine Monophosphate in Perchlorate-Spiked Martian Regolith Analogue, by Deep-Ultraviolet Spectroscopy. Astrobiology, 21 (5). pp. 511-525. ISSN 1531-1074. doi:10.1089/ast.2020.2362.

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The search for organic biosignatures on Mars will depend on finding material protected from the destructive ambient radiation. Solar ultraviolet can induce photochemical degradation of organic compounds, but certain clays have been shown to preserve organic material. We examine how the SHERLOC instrument on the upcoming Mars 2020 mission will use deep-ultraviolet (UV) (248.6 nm) Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy to detect a plausible biosignature of adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP) adsorbed onto Ca-montmorillonite clay. We found that the spectral signature of AMP is not altered by adsorption in the clay matrix but does change with prolonged exposure to the UV laser over dosages equivalent to 0.2–6 sols of ambient martian UV. For pure AMP, UV exposure leads to breaking of the aromatic adenine unit, but in the presence of clay the degradation is limited to minor alteration with new Raman peaks and increased fluorescence consistent with formation of 2-hydroxyadenosine, while 1 wt % Mg perchlorate increases the rate of degradation. Our results confirm that clays are effective preservers of organic material and should be considered high-value targets, but that pristine biosignatures may be altered within 1 sol of martian UV exposure, with implications for Mars 2020 science operations and sample caching.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Razzell Hollis, Joseph0000-0002-6239-694X
Fornaro, Teresa0000-0001-7705-9658
Rapin, William0000-0003-4660-8006
Wade, Jessica0000-0003-2866-3941
Vicente-Retortillo, Álvaro0000-0002-4553-7624
Steele, Andrew0000-0001-9643-2841
Bhartia, Rohit0000-0002-1434-7481
Beegle, Luther W.0000-0002-4944-4353
Additional Information:© 2021, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The work described in this article was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. No competing financial interests exist. This work was funded by a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship awarded to Joseph Razzell Hollis, administered by the Universities Space Research Association on behalf of NASA, and Teresa Fornaro was supported by the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) grant agreement ExoMars number 2017-48-H.0. William Rapin was funded by an MSL-Curiosity Participating Scientist grant to Bethany Ehlmann. © 2019. California Institute of Technology; government sponsorship acknowledged.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Postdoctoral ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Carnegie Institution of WashingtonUNSPECIFIED
Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)2017-48-H.0
Subject Keywords:Deep-UV spectroscopy — Mars — Biosignature detection — Photochemical degradation — Mars 2020
Issue or Number:5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210202-102132260
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Joseph Razzell Hollis, Teresa Fornaro, William Rapin, Jessica Wade, Álvaro Vicente-Retortillo, Andrew Steele, Rohit Bhartia, and Luther W. Beegle. Astrobiology. May 2021. 511-525;
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107869
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 Feb 2021 18:41
Last Modified:11 Nov 2022 23:24

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