The reactivity of the Martian soil and its implications for the persistence of organic matter – from molecules to microorganisms.
The microbiology group investigates the influence of inorganic oxidants on the fate of organic material in the Martian surface environment. The experiments are carried out under mimicked Mars conditions in unique simulation facilities. Our focus is on the oxidizing capacities of hydrogen peroxide and perchlorate towards organic matter covering a broad range of molecules from amino acids to complex organic structures including living bacterial cells. Our results contribute to answering the following central questions:
The latter point addresses the essential question of whether detected organic material or even microorganisms are indigenous to Mars or brought there because of forward contamination.
The specific objectives of the project are:
The research is inspired by the discoveries of recent years’ NASA missions to Mars (Phoenix, MER-rovers and MSL) in combination with the unique research facilities of the Aarhus Mars Simulation Laboratory.
The investigations are highly interdisciplinary and integrate the collective expertise of the “Mars-group”.
Current funding: Villum Experiment “Methane a sign og life- what drives its dynamics on Mars?” 2020-2022 2 mill DKK.