Chemical Composition of Micrometer-Sized Filaments in an Aragonite Host by a Miniature Laser Ablation/Ionization Mass Spectrometer

Tulej, Marek; Neubeck, Anna; Ivarsson, Magnus; Riedo, Andreas; Neuland, Maike Brigitte; Meyer, Stefan; Wurz, Peter (2015). Chemical Composition of Micrometer-Sized Filaments in an Aragonite Host by a Miniature Laser Ablation/Ionization Mass Spectrometer. Astrobiology, 15(8), pp. 669-682. Mary Ann Liebert 10.1089/ast.2015.1304

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Detection of extraterrestrial life is an ongoing goal in space exploration, and there is a need for advanced instruments and methods for the detection of signatures of life based on chemical and isotopic composition. Here, we present the first investigation of chemical composition of putative microfossils in natural samples using a miniature laser ablation/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer (LMS). The studies were conducted with high lateral (similar to 15 mu m) and vertical (similar to 20-200 nm) resolution. The primary aim of the study was to investigate the instrument performance on micrometer-sized samples both in terms of isotope abundance and element composition. The following objectives had to be achieved: (1) Consider the detection and calculation of single stable isotope ratios in natural rock samples with techniques compatible with their employment of space instrumentation for biomarker detection in future planetary missions. (2) Achieve a highly accurate chemical compositional map of rock samples with embedded structures at the micrometer scale in which the rock matrix is easily distinguished from the micrometer structures. Our results indicate that chemical mapping of strongly heterogeneous rock samples can be obtained with a high accuracy, whereas the requirements for isotope ratios need to be improved to reach sufficiently large signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Key Words: Biogenicity-Biomarkers-Biosignatures-Filaments-Fossilization. Astrobiology 15, 669-682.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Tulej, Marek, Riedo, Andreas, Neuland, Maike Brigitte, Meyer, Stefan, Wurz, Peter


500 Science > 530 Physics




Mary Ann Liebert




Katharina Weyeneth-Moser

Date Deposited:

10 May 2016 11:17

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:55

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:





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