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Conference papers

The MarsOrganiX experiment: Understanding the influence of the secondary X-Rays on the organic matter at Mars’ near-surface.

Abstract : Mars may have harbored a prebiotic chemistry that could have led to the emergence of life. If such, traces of these could be preserved in the oldest (3.5 billion years and more) rocks at the surface of the planet. Because of the thin atmosphere of Mars and the absence of an active magnetic field, the harsh radiative environment at the near-surface consists of UV and X-ray radiation, galactic and solar cosmic rays (GCRs and SCRs), as well as secondary particles produced by the interaction of GCRs and SCRs with the atmosphere and soil (secondary X-rays). The majority of the X-rays at the martian surface are generated in the rocks by the penetrating GCR and SCR particles. The GCRs’ secondary X-rays’ absorbed dose, at the top centimeters of the surface of Mars, has been estimated at about 0.05 Gy per year. All these radiation (direct and indirect) are prone to induce extended degradation or transformation of organic matter that would be present at Mars’ near-surface, down to the ~3 m depth of the GCRs/SCRs penetration. The SAM experiment onboard Curiosity rover led to the first in situ detection of organic molecules in martian rocks and soils. Chlorobenzene was detected in Cumberland at a concentration of up to 300 parts per billion in weight. However, chlorobenzene was thought to be formed in the SAM oven, during the pyrolysis of the sample. Nevertheless, Cumberland sample has been exposed to GCRs and SCRs for about 80 million years, and thus, the undergone X-rays radiation may have processed the organic matter and chlorinated the organic molecules in presence of perchlorate. Therefore, this study aims at evaluating the possible precursor(s), that would lead to the formation of chlorobenzene (detected with SAM) when irradiated in presence of perchlorate. Using the PSICHE beam line at SOLEIL, a synchrotron facility in France, we studied the extend of degradation and transformation of two organic molecules of interest, a carboxylic acid (benzoic acid) and an amino acid (L-alanine) in absence and presence of perchlorate, under the simulated X-rays radiative environments present at Mars’ near-surface. The solid and gaseous phases of the samples were analyzed to evaluate the potential degradation of the molecules during irradiation (MS) and to characterize the residual organic content after irradiation in the retrieved samples (FTIR and GCMS).
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 3:21:17 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 4:10:24 AM


  • HAL Id : insu-01687532, version 1


Arnaud Buch, Cyril Szopa, Caroline Freissinet, Fabien Stalport, David Coscia, et al.. The MarsOrganiX experiment: Understanding the influence of the secondary X-Rays on the organic matter at Mars’ near-surface.. AGU 2017 Fall Meeting, Dec 2017, New Orleans, United States. ⟨insu-01687532⟩



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