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10 February 2004 In-situ detection of microbial life through respiratory electron analysis
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Microbial biofuel cells generate electrical power through the collection of respiratory electrons, which are liberated by the metabolism of nutrients by microorganisms. In the context of in-situ detection of extraterrestrial life, the following question is raised: if microorganisms can be used to generate electrical power, under what circumstances can the generation of electrical power be used to indicate the presence of microbial life? Such an approach to the detection of microorganisms is susceptible to the same ambiguities as similar approaches in that local geochemistry may produce a signal that mimics the presence of life. Consideration is given to time -resolved signal observation to the discrimination of biochemistry and geochemistry and how this approach may be combined with alternate approaches to build a case for, or against, the presence of life. Construction and operation details of microbial biofuel cells, based on marine sediments, are discussed, as are considerations for space flight hardware.
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Gregory A. Konesky "In-situ detection of microbial life through respiratory electron analysis", Proc. SPIE 5163, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VII, (10 February 2004);

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