Chemical and Optical Identification of Micrometer-Sized 1.9 Billion-Year-Old Fossils by Combining a Miniature Laser Ablation Ionization Mass Spectrometry System with an Optical Microscope

Wiesendanger, Reto; Wacey, David; Tulej, Marek; Neubeck, Anna; Ivarsson, Magnus; Grimaudo, Valentine; Moreno-Garciá, Pavel; Cedeño-López, Alena; Riedo, Andreas; Wurz, Peter (2018). Chemical and Optical Identification of Micrometer-Sized 1.9 Billion-Year-Old Fossils by Combining a Miniature Laser Ablation Ionization Mass Spectrometry System with an Optical Microscope. Astrobiology, 18(8), pp. 1071-1080. Mary Ann Liebert 10.1089/ast.2017.1780

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The recognition of biosignatures on planetary bodies requires the analysis of the putative microfossil with a set of complementary analytical techniques. This includes localized elemental and isotopic analysis of both the putative microfossil and its surrounding host matrix. If the analysis can be performed with spatial resolution at the micrometer level and part-per-million detection sensitivities, valuable information on the (bio)chemical and physical processes that influenced the sample material can be gained. Our miniaturized laser ablation ionization mass spectrometry (LIMS)-time-of-flight mass spectrometer instrument is a valid candidate for performing the required chemical analysis in situ. However, up until now it was limited by the spatial accuracy of the sampling. In this contribution, we introduce a newly developed microscope system with micrometer accuracy for ultra high vacuum application, which allows a significant increase in the measurement capabilities of our miniature LIMS system. The new enhancement allows identification and efficient and accurate sampling of features of micrometersized fossils in a host matrix. The performance of our system is demonstrated by the identification and chemical analysis of signatures of micrometer-sized fossil structures in the 1.9 billion-year-old Gunflint chert. Key Words: Biosignatures—Gunflint chert—In situ mass spectrometry—Life-detection—Microscopy—Space instrumentation. Astrobiology 18, 1071–1080.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Departement of Chemistry and Biochemistry
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Wiesendanger, Reto; Tulej, Marek; Riedo, Valentine; Moreno, Pavel; Cedeño López, Alena; Riedo, Andreas and Wurz, Peter

Subjects:

500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
500 Science > 530 Physics

ISSN:

1531-1074

Publisher:

Mary Ann Liebert

Language:

English

Submitter:

Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

30 Aug 2018 14:10

Last Modified:

30 Aug 2018 14:10

Publisher DOI:

10.1089/ast.2017.1780

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.119625

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/119625

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