Ms Arola Moreras Marti
I work with Dr. Claire Cousins and Dr. Aubrey Zerkle using a combination of geochemistry and microbiology experiments to understand the potential for past microbial life on Mars.
I use a Mars-analogue field site in Iceland to better characterise the geological environment suitable for microbial communities that could have once thrived on Mars. The Vatnajökull ice cap is on the NW geothermally heated from the Kverkfjöll volcano below, providing a unique system of glacial lakes and ephemeral pools that host microorganisms adapted to anoxic (no oxygen) and low-level nutrient environments. We chose this field area because its basaltic mineralogy, ice, and hydrothermal pools are comparable to ancient Martian environments.
For my PhD thesis, I am doing a combination of laboratory culturing, analyses of hydrothermal fluids and minerals, and stable isotope geochemistry. My aim is to understand what kind of microbial life can be sustained in the hydrothermal pools of Kverkfjoll and identify their resulting biosignatures to aid our future search for life on Mars.
This PhD is funded by the UK Space Agency.
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