The Argentinian Research Unit in Astrobiology arises as the consequence of several years of national and international joint collaborations.

We develop interdisciplinary research in the astrobiology field, that is mainly focused in the following topics, some of them connected with each other:

The study of radiation environments on exoplanetary and early planetary scenarios and their effects on habitability

In particular, the study of the origin of life in the Solar System and in the possibility of the existence of life in planetary bodies beyond, orbiting different kind of stars. This is part of two international projects ´The EXO-UV project´ and ´The BioSun project´. Both have a strong astrophysical input as well as they include experimental approaches from microbiology.

Experimental simulations of extraterrestrial environments under laboratory conditions

This includes radiation, vacuum or atmospheric composition and temperature to recreate the conditions of planetary (e.g.: Mars) and interplanetary scenarios (e.g.: Low Earth orbit). These simulations are part of different studies on habitability and lithopanspermia (a hypothesis that considers meteorites as potential carriers of microbial life forms).

Microbiology of extreme environments, in particular focused on microorganisms as halophilic archaea

Hypersaline environments are one of our main targets as environmental analogues of extraterrestrial environments. Halophilic archaea are extreme halophiles (microorganisms living at very high salt concentrations) and are considered as models of potential extraterrestrial life, due to their capacity to cope with multiple environmental factors (radiation, desiccation, among others). These microorganisms inhabit in multiple kind of hypersaline environments on Earth that are also considered analogs of extraterrestrial scenarios as several planetary bodies of the Solar System. Part of this work is intended to unveil similarities between hypersaline environments of Mars and Earth and the possibility to consider halophiles as a potential kind of life on this planet. Here we combine approaches from geology to biology.

Development of methods to detect extraterrestrial life

We work in the development of methods to detect life in other planetary bodies, mainly based on their metabolic features.

Many of the developed topics not only have the capacity to generate knowledge in the field of “basic” science, but also have the possibility of gathering in possible derivative applications, such as those related to environmental microbiology and biotechnology, among others, of what is called “applied” science.