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Review

Instrumentation for Detecting Sulphur Isotopes as Biosignatures on Europa and Ganymede by Forthcoming Missions

by †,‡
The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, 34151 Trieste, Italy
Visiting Scientist, The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics.
Profesor Titular ad honorem, Fundación Instituto de Estudios Avanzados (IDEA), Caracas 1080, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Academic Editors: Marek Tulej and Ezio Caroli
Universe 2022, 8(7), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/universe8070357
Received: 31 May 2022 / Revised: 21 June 2022 / Accepted: 21 June 2022 / Published: 27 June 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Developments and Technology Trends in the Space-Borne Instrumentation)
There has been remarkable progress in identifying a certain type of biosignature, both from the point of view of the payloads of forthcoming missions, and from the point of view of biogeochemistry. This progress has been due to the evolution of miniaturized mass spectrometry that can be used, under certain circumstances and for certain samples, to distinguish between putatively abiotic and biotic sulphur isotopes. These specific types of biosignatures are discussed in the context of Europa and Ganymede. Such instruments are sufficiently precise to differentiate between abiotic and biotic signatures. We reflect on new possibilities that will be available during this decade for exploring the nearest ocean worlds: Europa and Ganymede. We review arguments that point out the presence of intriguing sulphur patches on Europa’s icy surface that were discovered by the Galileo mission. These patches lead to a “sulphur dilemma”, which suggests not to focus future measurements exclusively on organics. We comment on the possibility of measurements of sulphur isotopes, as one kind of biosignature, to be complemented with additional biosignatures, in order to fully test biogenicity. These suggestions are intended to point out the best use of the available spacecrafts’ payloads during the planning of the forthcoming Jovian missions. View Full-Text
Keywords: excursions of isotope fractionation; the JUICE mission; Europa clipper; Europa lander mission concepts excursions of isotope fractionation; the JUICE mission; Europa clipper; Europa lander mission concepts
MDPI and ACS Style

Chela-Flores, J. Instrumentation for Detecting Sulphur Isotopes as Biosignatures on Europa and Ganymede by Forthcoming Missions. Universe 2022, 8, 357. https://doi.org/10.3390/universe8070357

AMA Style

Chela-Flores J. Instrumentation for Detecting Sulphur Isotopes as Biosignatures on Europa and Ganymede by Forthcoming Missions. Universe. 2022; 8(7):357. https://doi.org/10.3390/universe8070357

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chela-Flores, Julian. 2022. "Instrumentation for Detecting Sulphur Isotopes as Biosignatures on Europa and Ganymede by Forthcoming Missions" Universe 8, no. 7: 357. https://doi.org/10.3390/universe8070357

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