STFC fully funded PhD opportunity

Posted by kha5 at Jun 10, 2016 04:05 PM |
'Development of Raman Spectroscopy for Mars: an inter-disciplinary approach'

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Carr

This project is open to UK applicants only due to residency restrictions set by the Research Councils.

Background

The purpose of this PhD is to support the development of instrumentation for forthcoming Mars missions. ExoMars in particular will be equipped with a miniature Raman Laser spectrometer (RLS), designed to detect organic biomarkers, particularly UV-protective pigments, and their inorganic matrix. This project will test and develop these instruments using terrestrial Mars analogues from hyper-arid deserts. Several desert environments have been proposed as “Mars analogues” (Fairén et al., 2010, Hutchinson et al., 2014). These provide key opportunities to develop and test new instrumentation designed to detect life (or its remains) on planetary surfaces (Navarro-Gonzalez et al., 2003; Edwards et al., 2012). Hyper-arid environments also allow us to test the limits of life on Earth via an understanding of the habits of extremophile organisms and the functioning of the soil C and N cycles under extreme aridity.

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Carr PhD
Figure 1: A: The Namib Desert: a seemingly lifeless landscape covered by a biogenic crust (B). C: Desert Varnish in the Mojave Desert; these rock coatings, purportedly also present on Martian rocks, on Earth preserve detectable organic matter (Malherbe et al, 2014).

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