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Astrobiological Analogues



Page 1:

The first panel is an illustration of a view of the Earth from space, with Antarctica fully visible, and the bottoms of Africa, South America, and Australia surrounding it.

Next to the Earth is a male presenting young adult, with curly brown hair, orange eyes, and light brown skin. Above the Earth is the title, “Take a tour of the solar system without leaving Earth! Astrobiological analogues,” followed by the author’s name and affiliation– Teresa Mccarrell, Hamilton Lab.

There are 3 text boxes on this panel. They read: “In the past decade, there’s been an increased interest in the study of life on other worlds: the study of astrobiology.”


“Because, if we find life outside of life on Earth, it would revolutionize theories about how life originated, how it spread and how it continues to spread.”

Between the first and second panels is a text box, reading “We may feel like a big deal, but humans are a small leaf on the tree of life and a small part of the universe!”

The second panel is a view of the sun and all the planets in the solar system, in order. The text box associated with this panel reads “It’s currently financially impossible to visit every interesting body in our solar system, so we do the next best thing.”.

Page 2: 

Text at the top of the page reads “we study astrobiological analogues.” The top half of the page has 4 illustrations. From left to right,they are as follows: a red river coursing across a desert, captioned “Rio Tinto, Spain;” a tan mountain range backdropping a desert environment, captioned “Atacama Desert, Chile;” a dark lakebed captioned “Lake Vostok, Antarctica;” and a murky wet area surrounded by dark rocks, captioned “Tar Pits, USA.” The text boxes associated with  these images read: “Astrobiological analogues are sites on Earth which resemble sites on other planets or on moons.”

“At these sites, we can test out instruments that will be used in future satellites and rovers. We can also study the microorganisms at these sites.”

The top panel shows the same young man previously depicted, now wearing a navy blue shirt with an orange collar. He stands in the Atacama desert, and behind him are 4 zoomed-in views of microbes present in the desert. He says “Studying microbes at these sites helps us learn about what kinds of microbes might exist in similar environments on other worlds!”

Page 3:

This page features two panels, set on a background of a starry sky. The top panel shows the same young man as before. Now, he faces the audience, with one hand resting on the side of the panel, saying “We can also learn what kind of biosignatures these microbes might produce that we could detect! Biosignatures are evidence that life was or is present. Biosignatures can include byproducts of life, such as organic compounds in the soil, or compounds like oxygen and methane in the atmosphere.” The second panel shows the young man pointing at a small satellite. 

The satellite has a black, square body, 4 blue panels, and a design that looks like a pair of golden parentheses. The man is saying “To learn more about these analogue sites you just saw, follow this probe for a tour!”

Page 4:

In the upper left of this page is an image of planet Earth, facing the continent of Antarctica, and the bottom right has an image of Mars. The background is a starry sky.Next to each planet is an illustration of an environment on its surface. For Earth, it is the red river coursing across a desert, captioned “Rio Tinto, Spain;” and for Mars, it is a desert with lines carved into its surface, captioned “dried riverbed, Mars.” 

Text in the center of the page reads “The sediments of Rio Tinto resemble Mars in that they have high levels of sulfate and iron oxide, a low pH, and a high concentration on toxic heavy metals. Despite these harsh conditions, there is a diverse microbial community below the surface layer of the sediments at Rio Tinto. In 2005, the Mars Analog Rio Tinto Experiment (MARTE) was conducted at Rio Tinto. This robotics project tested the abilities of a prototype rover, having it take sediment cores and analyze them on site.” \At the bottom left of the page is the satellite, saying “Mars is a big focus in astrobiology.”

Page 5:

Once again, Earth is in the top left and Mars is in the bottom left, on a starry background. This time, the illustration associated with the Earth is the tan mountain range backdropping a desert environment, captioned “Atacama Desert, Chile;” and the illustration for Mars is of a similar mountain range backdropping a desert environment, with the reddish

Martian sky above it. Text in the center of the page reads “The sediments of the Atacama are rich with halite, nitrate, and perchlorate salts. These salts absorb water from the atmosphere and allow it to precipitate on the sediment surface in a process called deliquescence. This allows for water to be accessible to the microbial community despite the extremely dry nature of the desert. Martian soil is also perchlorate rich, and there is photographic evidence that deliquescence also exists on Mars.” 

The satellite is flying above Mars, saying “We’ve looked at two of the many Martian analogue sites. On to the next location!”

Page 6:

This time, the Earth is in the upper right of the page. In the lower right are two of Jupiter’s moons, Europa and Ganymede. Europa is white with orange scattered across its surface, and Ganymede is grey. The illustration next to the Earth is the dark lakebed captioned “Lake Vostok, Antarctica;” and an illustration next to Europa shows an ocean floor with geysers erupting from it. It’s captioned “subsurface of Europa.” Text in the middle of this page reads “We’ve looked at two of the many Martian analogue sites. On to the next location!” The satellite is to the left of the moons, saying “There are several icy moons of interest, orbiting Jupiter.”

Page 7:

The Earth is in the upper left of the page, and in the bottom left, there is a yellow moon, Saturn’s moon, Titan. The illustration by the Earth is the murky wet area surrounded by dark rocks, captioned “Tar Pits, USA.”

The illustration next to Titan is a yellow surface, with a lake of murky, black liquid, and a yellow sky. It’s captioned “surface of Titan.” The text box in the center of the page reads ” We’ve looked at two of the many Martiananalogue sites. On to the next location!” 

The satellite is next to the Earth, saying “Another interesting moon is Saturn’s moon, Titan!”

Page 8:

This page is a large illustration of several planets and moons– in the front, and at the bottom left, is Venus. Tucked partially behind Venus is Earth, and slightly behind the Earth is Mars. In the center are three of Jupiter’s moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, a dark colored moon with light speckles. At the top of the page, from left to right, are the yellow moon Titan, the blue-grey moon Tritan and the small white moon, Enceladus. The satellite flies near the top left of the page, saying “Our tour is over, but there’s so much we didn’t get to see!”

“Here are most of the major targets of astrobiology in our solar system!”

A note at the bottom left reads: “Visit to learn more!”