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Astrobiology. 2012 Sep;12(9):841-53. doi: 10.1089/ast.2012.0861.

The O/OREOS mission: first science data from the space environment viability of organics (SEVO) payload.

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  • 1NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA.


We report the first science results from the Space Environment Viability of Organics (SEVO) payload aboard the Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses (O/OREOS) free-flying nanosatellite, which completed its nominal spaceflight mission in May 2011 but continues to acquire data biweekly. The SEVO payload integrates a compact UV-visible-NIR spectrometer, utilizing the Sun as its light source, with a 24-cell sample carousel that houses four classes of vacuum-deposited organic thin films: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), amino acid, metalloporphyrin, and quinone. The organic films are enclosed in hermetically sealed sample cells that contain one of four astrobiologically relevant microenvironments. Results are reported in this paper for the first 309 days of the mission, during which the samples were exposed for ∼2210 h to direct solar illumination (∼1080 kJ/cm(2) of solar energy over the 124-2600 nm range). Transmission spectra (200-1000 nm) were recorded for each film, at first daily and subsequently every 15 days, along with a solar spectrum and the dark response of the detector array. Results presented here include eight preflight and 16 in-flight spectra of eight SEVO sample cells. Spectra from the PAH thin film in a water-vapor-containing microenvironment indicate measurable change due to solar irradiation in orbit, while three other nominally water-free microenvironments show no appreciable change. The quinone anthrarufin showed high photostability and no significant spectroscopically measurable change in any of the four microenvironments during the same period. The SEVO experiment provides the first in situ real-time analysis of the photostability of organic compounds and biomarkers in orbit.

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