Analog Studies

Records of Life in Ice: Opening the Cryogenic Vault

By Keith Cowing
November 16, 2008

Jennifer Eigenbrode: Ice is a cryogenic vault for preserving organics and other materials that may record planetary processes. On Earth, cold temperatures retard against hydrolysis and oxidation, which degrade biomolecules and other organics, allowing traces of life to persist in the presence of impurities. We are exploring the dilute biological and organic inventory contained within modern glacial ice on Earth in order to understand the habitat of microorganisms in near-surface glacial ice and to distinguish allochthonous from autochthonous organic records.

The Signatures of Life in Ice (SLIce) project attempts to overcome the challenges imposed by relatively ideal study conditions in order to support future mission design aimed at detecting organic molecules and ice-dwelling life in extraterrestrial ice. Our study strongly depends on forward contamination controls much like planetary missions. Initial results from ice core samples collected on the Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) will be presented.

The November Forum for Astrobiology Research (FAR) will be held on Monday, November 17th at 11:00am PT (9:00am HT, 12:00pm MT, 1:00pm CT, 2:00pm ET). This seminar is broadcast live by NAI – you can attend locally from a videoconferencing room or from your desktop (see instructions below). Please join us to hear presentations on “Extreme Environments” by Jennifer Eigenbrode of Goddard Space Flight Center and Damhnait Gleeson University of Colorado at Boulder and JPL.

Source: NAI Newsletter

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻