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Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2012 Jun;42(2-3):101-11. doi: 10.1007/s11084-012-9288-z. Epub 2012 Jun 17.

Passive detection of biological aerosols in the atmosphere with a Fourier Transform Instrument (FTIR)--the results of the measurements in the laboratory and in the field.

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Space Research Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences, Bartycka18a, 00-716, Warsaw, Poland.


Fourier Transform Infrared Radiation (FTIR) spectroscopy is one of the most powerful methods for the detection of gaseous constituents, aerosols, and dust in planetary atmospheres. Infrared spectroscopy plays an important role in searching for biomarkers, organics and biological substances in the Universe. The possibility of detection and identifications with FTIR spectrometer of bio-aerosol spores (Bacillus atrophaeus var. globigii=BG) in the atmosphere is discussed in this paper. We describe the results of initial spectral measurements performed in the laboratory and in the field. The purpose of these experiments was to detect and to identify bio-aerosol spores in two conditions: 1) In a closed chamber where the thermal contrast between the background and aerosols was large, and 2) In open air where the thermal contrast between the background and aerosols was small. The extinction spectrum of BG spores was deduced by comparing our measurements with models, and other measurements known from the literature. Our theoretical and experimental studies indicate that, during passive remote sensing measurements, it is difficult-but possible to detect and to identify bio-aerosol clouds by their spectral signatures. The simple spectral analysis described in the paper can be useful for the detection of various kinds of trace aerosols-not only in the Earth's atmosphere, but also during planetary missions in the environments of other astronomical objects such as planets, comets etc. We expect that the interpretation of data from spectrometric sounding of Venus and Mars during the current missions Mars and Venus Express, and later during the Rosetta mission will benefit from our experimental work and numerical modelling.

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