Remote and in situ detection of environmental and biological signatures: Ground-truthing hyperspectral imaging for planetary exploration

Michael C. Storrie-Lombardi*, Adrian J. Brown, Malcolm R. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Proposed geochemical histories for the evolution of Mars offer the possibility that the planet may have experienced conditions remarkably similar to those faced by life on Earth during Archean and Proterozoic eons. For almost two billion years microbial mat communities dominated by photosynthetic cyanobacteria were the dominant life forms on Earth. Descendents of these complex communities and the fossil remnants of their ancestors can be found today in Northwestern Australia. These sites offer a unique testing ground for developing integrated remote and in situ methods for identifying sites of geobiological interest during exploration of Mars, the Jovian or Saturnian satellites, or neighboring extra-solar planetary systems. We are currently performing remote and in situ analyses of spectral and image data from the Trendall locality of NW Australia, an area rich in geobiological targets including hydrothermally altered basalts, fossil stromatolites and pillow basalts. We discuss the early results of employing cluster analysis, Bayesian probabilistic estimators, and complexity analysis techniques to analyze remote and in situ photographic and spectral data. The techniques presented offer a systematic methodology for both the remote selection of landing sites most likely to contain targets of geobiological interest and the in situ identification of aqueous or biologically altered samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Pages (from-to)270-280
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume5555
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • Archaean
  • Bayesian probabilities
  • Complexity analysis
  • Hyperspectral imaging
  • Paleobiosignatures
  • Pilbara
  • Stromatolites

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