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Modelling the surface and subsurface Martian radiation environment: Implications for astrobiology

Dartnell, LR; Desorgher, L; Ward, JM; Coates, AJ; (2007) Modelling the surface and subsurface Martian radiation environment: Implications for astrobiology. Geophysical Research Letters , 34 (2) , Article L02207. 10.1029/2006GL027494. Green open access

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Abstract

The damaging effect of ionising radiation on cellular structure is one of the prime limiting factors on the survival of life in potential astrobiological habitats. Here we model the propagation of solar energetic protons and galactic cosmic ray particles through the Martian atmosphere and three different surface scenarios: dry regolith, water ice, and regolith with layered permafrost. Particle energy spectra and absorbed radiation dose are determined for the surface and at regular depths underground, allowing the calculation of microbial survival times. Bacteria or spores held dormant by freezing conditions cannot metabolise and become inactivated by accumulating radiation damage. We find that at 2 m depth, the reach of the ExoMars drill, a population of radioresistant cells would need to have reanimated within the last 450,000 years to still be viable. Recovery of viable cells cryopreserved within the putative Cerberus pack-ice requires a drill depth of at least 7.5 m.

Type: Article
Title: Modelling the surface and subsurface Martian radiation environment: Implications for astrobiology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1029/2006GL027494
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2006GL027494
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union
Keywords: Deinococcus-radiodurans, Mars, Physics, Soils, Earth, Site
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Biochemical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/134609
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