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Natural radioactive enviroments as sources of local chemical disequilibrium and its potencial prebiotic aftercomes

Grant number: 16/08854-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2016
Effective date (End): February 28, 2018
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal Investigator:Douglas Galante
Grantee:Thiago Altair Ferreira
Home Institution: Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (CNPEM). Associação Brasileira de Tecnologia de Luz Síncrotron (ABTLuS). Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (Brasil). Campinas, SP, Brazil

Abstract

Natural nuclear reactors have been described as natural geological arrangements containing fissile material and water in rocky environment, resulting in controlled chain nuclear reaction, which remained active for thousands or millions of years. These environments may have had a role in the process of emergence of life and evolution in the context of pre-Cambrian ecosystems becaus it provides energy necessary for chemical non-equilibrium. Currently, we know that in deep environments with radiolytic sources exits microbial lithoautotrophic species whose survival is independent of photosynthesis from sunlight. The proposal in this work, is to evaluate, analytically and numerically, physicochemical conditions and radiolytic energy sources and their effects on the habitability of these environments in the context of the early Earth, quantifying the amount of biologically usable energy and considering different sources chemical and physical disequilibrium. This evaluation is proposed to be made with reference to the similarity between these alkaline rediolytic microenvironment and alkaline hydrothermal vents, which has shown promising prebiotic potential. From this study we can analyze not only the prebiotic potential of these natural radioactive environments on the early Earth, but also, in future works, habitability in similar extraterrestrial environments such as the icy moons of Jupiter - Europa, Callisto and Ganymede - main targets for the next searches missions for life in the Solar System (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP about the scholarship:
Brazilians create model to evaluate possibility of life on Jupiter’s icy moon