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An Assessment of macro-scale in situ Raman and ultraviolet-induced fluorescence spectroscopy for rapid characterization of frozen peat and ground ice

  • Janelle R. Laing (a1), Hailey C. Robichaud (a2) and Edward A. Cloutis (a2)

Abstract

The search for life on other planets is an active area of research. Many of the likeliest planetary bodies, such as Europa, Enceladus, and Mars are characterized by cold surface environments and ice-rich terrains. Both Raman and ultraviolet-induced fluorescence (UIF) spectroscopies have been proposed as promising tools for the detection of various kinds of bioindicators in these environments. We examined whether macro-scale Raman and UIF spectroscopy could be applied to the analysis of unprocessed terrestrial frozen peat and clear ground ice samples for detection of bioindicators. It was found that this approach did not provide unambiguous detection of bioindicators, likely for a number of reasons, particularly due to strong broadband induced fluorescence. Other contributing factors may include degradation of organic matter in frozen peat to the point that compound-specific emitted fluorescence or Raman peaks were not resolvable. Our study does not downgrade the utility of either UIF or Raman spectroscopy for astrobiological investigations (which has been demonstrated in previous studies), but does suggest that the choice of instrumentation, operational conditions and sample preparation are important factors in ensuring the success of these techniques.

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