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Stellar radiation and its influence over the biosphere of planetary bodies

Grant number: 12/20106-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2013
Effective date (End): July 31, 2014
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Astronomy
Principal researcher:Jorge Ernesto Horvath
Grantee:Ximena Celeste Abrevaya
Home Institution: Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas (IAG). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The main objective of this plan is to model extraterrestrial environments, taking into account radiation as a factor influencing the origin, evolution and development of life inside or outside the Solar System. This plan involves both theoretical and experimental work. The first part involves theoretical modeling of the potential effects of radiation over the biosphere of terrestrial (primitive Earth, Mars, Europa) or extraterrestrial environments (extrasolar planets) subjected to radiation from different stellar objects (the young Sun and solar stellar analogs and F, K and M stars, respectively).The second part involves experimental work to test the predictions made by the models. These laboratory experiments will be carried out using different radiotolerant or radioresistant microorganisms from different domains of life such as halophilic archaea, cyanobacteria and the radioresistant bacteria Deinococcus radiodurans. The irradiation experiments will be performed using different sources of UV and X-ray radiation. The results of the experimental section will provide more knowledge about the capacity of life to survive in simulated environments. Also, they will provide some important clues about the origin of life on Earth and on other planetary bodies of our Solar System. Conversely, they could be used as input to adjust the models, thus enhancing their accuracy.This work will provide new information related to the origin and evolution of life on Earth and the possibility of existence of life on other planetary bodies, which is of vital importance for the astrobiological community.

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