Skip to main content Accessibility help

The AMINO experiment: a laboratory for astrochemistry and astrobiology on the EXPOSE-R facility of the International Space Station

  • H. Cottin (a1), K. Saiagh (a1), Y.Y. Guan (a1), M. Cloix (a1), D. Khalaf (a1), F. Macari (a1), M. Jérome (a1), J.-M. Polienor (a1), Y. Bénilan (a1), P. Coll (a1) (a2), N. Fray (a1), M.-C. Gazeau (a1), F. Raulin (a1), F. Stalport (a1), N. Carrasco (a2) (a3), C. Szopa (a2), M. Bertrand (a4), A. Chabin (a4), F. Westall (a4), J. Vergne (a5), L.A. Da Silva (a5), M.-C. Maurel (a5), D. Chaput (a6), R. Demets (a7) and A. Brack (a4)...


The study of the evolution of organic matter subjected to space conditions, and more specifically to Solar photons in the vacuum ultraviolet range (120–200 nm) has been undertaken in low-Earth orbit since the 1990s, and implemented on various space platforms. This paper describes a photochemistry experiment called AMINO, conducted during 22 months between 2009 and 2011 on the EXPOSE-R ESA facility, outside the International Space Station. Samples with relevance to astrobiology (connected to comets, carbonaceous meteorites and micrometeorites, the atmosphere of Titan and RNA world hypothesis) have been selected and exposed to space environment. They have been analysed after return to the Earth. This paper is not discussing the results of the experiment, but rather gives a general overview of the project, the details of the hardware used, its configuration and recent developments to enable long-duration exposure of gaseous samples in tight closed cells enabling for the first time to derive quantitative results from gaseous phase samples exposed in space.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Barbier, B., Chabin, A., Chaput, D. & Brack, A. (1998). Photochemical processing of amino acids in Earth orbit. Planet. Space Sci. 46, 391398.
Barbier, B., Henin, O., Boillot, F., Chabin, A., Chaput, D. & Brack, A. (2002). Exposure of amino acids and derivatives in the Earth orbit. Planet. Space Sci. 50, 353359.
Bertrand, M., Chabin, A., Brack, A., Cottin, H., Chaput, D. & Westall, F. (2012). The PROCESS experiment: exposure of amino acids in the EXPOSE-E experiment on the ISS and in laboratory simulations. Astrobiology 12, 426435.
Bertrand, M., Chabin, A., Colas, C., Cadène, M., Chaput, D., Brack, A., Cottin, H. & Westall, F. (This issue). The AMINO experiment: exposure of amino acids in the Expose -R experiment on the International Space Science and in laboratory. Int. J. Astrobiol. doi: 10.1017/S1473550414000354, published online 08 09 2014 .
Beuselinck, T. & Bavinchove, C.V. (2011). EXPOSE: environmental history by calculation: EXPOSE-R simulation results, REDSHIFT company. Report under ESA contract 4000102520.
Boillot, F., Chabin, A., Buré, C., Venet, M., Belsky, A., Bertrand-Urbaniak, M., Delmas, A., Brack, A. & Barbier, B. (2002). The perseus exobiology mission on MIR: behaviour of amino acids and peptides in earth orbit. Orig. Life 32, 359385.
Bryson, K.L., Salama, F., Elsaesser, A., Peeters, Z., Ricco, A.J., Foing, B.H. & Goreva, Y. (This issue) First results of the ORGANIC experiment on EXPOSE-R on the ISS. Int. J. Astrobiol. Currently under review.
Carrasco, N., Cottin, H., Cloix, M., Bénilan, Y., Coll, P., Gazeau, M.-C., Raulin, F., Saiagh, K., Chaput, D. & Szopa, C. (This issue). The AMINO experiment: methane photolysis under solar VUV irradiation on the EXPOSE-R facility of the International Space Station. Int. J. Astrobiol. doi: 10.1017/S1473550414000238, published online 15 07 2014 .
Cook, A.M., Mattioda, A.L., Quinn, R.C., Ricco, A.J., Ehrenfreund, P., Bramall, Nathan E., Minelli, G., Quigley, E., Walker, R. & Walker, R. (2014). SEVO on the ground: design of a laboratory solar simulation in support of the O/OREOS mission. Astrophys. J. Suppl. 210, 15.
Cottin, H., Gazeau, M.C., Doussin, J.F. & Raulin, F. (2000). An experimental study of the photodegradation of polyoxymethylene at 122, 147 and 193 nm. J. Photochem. Photobiol. 135, 5364.
Cottin, H., Moore, M.H. & Bénilan, Y. (2003). Photodestruction of relevant interstellar molecules in ice mixtures. Astrophys. J. 590, 874881.
Cottin, H. et al. (2008). Heterogeneous solid/gas chemistry of organic compounds related to comets, meteorites, Titan and Mars: in laboratory and in lower Earth orbit experiments. Adv. Space Res. 42, 20192035.
Cottin, H. et al. (2012). The PROCESS experiment: an astrochemistry laboratory for solid and gaseous organic samples in low Earth orbit. Astrobiology 12, 412425.
Dachev, T., Horneck, G., Häder, D.-P., Schuster, M. & Lebert, M. (This issue) EXPOSE-R cosmic radiation time profile. Int. J. Astrobiol. doi: 10.1017/S1473550414000093, published online 29 04 2014 .
Demets, R. et al. (This issue). Window contamination on Expose-R. Int. J. Astrobiol. doi 10.1017/S1473550414000536, currently in press.
Ehrenfreund, P., Charnley, S.B. & Wooden, D. (2004). From interstellar material to comet particles and molecules. In Comets II, ed. Festou, M.C., Keller, H.U. & Weaver, H.A., pp. 115133. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
Ehrenfreund, P., Ruiterkamp, R., Peeters, Z., Foing, B., Salama, F. & Martins, Z. (2007). The ORGANICS experiment on BIOPAN V: UV and space exposure of aromatic compounds. Planet. Space Sci. 55, 383400.
Ehrenfreund, P. et al. (2014). The O/OREOS Mission. Astrobiology in low Earth orbit. Acta Astronaut. 93, 501508.
Elsaesser, A. et al. (2014). Organics Exposure in Orbit (OREOcube): A Next-Generation Space Exposure Platform. Lang.
Gans, B., Peng, Z., Carrasco, N., Gauyacq, D., Lebonnois, S. & Pernot, P. (2013). Impact of a new wavelength-dependent representation of methane photolysis branching ratios on the modeling of Titan's atmospheric photochemistry. Icarus 223, 330343.
Guan, Y.Y., Fray, N., Coll, P., Macari, F., Raulin, F., Chaput, D. & Cottin, H. (2010). UVolution: compared photochemistry of prebiotic organic compounds in low Earth orbit and in the laboratory. Planet. Space Sci. 58, 13271346.
Kuhn, H.J., Braslavsky, S.E. & Schmidt, R. (1989). Chemical actinometry. Pure Appl. Chem. 61, 187210.
Mattioda, A. et al. (2012). The O/OREOS mission: first science data from the space environment viability of organics (SEVO) payload. Astrobiology 12, 841853.
Noblet, A. et al. (2012). The PROCESS experiment: amino and carboxylic acids under Mars like surface UV radiation conditions in low Earth orbit. Astrobiology 12, 436444.
Oro, J. & Holzer, G. (1979). The photolytic degradation and oxidation of organic compounds under simulated martian conditions. J. Mol. Evol. 14, 153160
Poch, O., Noblet, A., Stalport, F., Correia, J.J., Grand, N., Szopa, C. & Coll, P. (2013). Chemical evolution of organic molecules under Mars-like UV radiation conditions simulated in the laboratory with the ‘Mars organic molecule irradiation and evolution’ (MOMIE) setup. Planet. Space Sci. 85, 188197.
Rabbow, E. et al. (This issue). The Astrobiological Mission EXPOSE-R on board of the International Space Station. Int. J. Astrobiol. doi: 10.1017/S1473550414000202, published online 26 08 2014 .
Saiagh, K., Cloix, M., Fray, N. & Cottin, H. (2014). VUV and Mid-UV photoabsorption cross sections of thin films of adenine: application on its photochemistry in the Solar System. Planet. Space Sci. 90, 9099.
Saiagh, K., Cottin, H., Alean, A. & Fray, N. (Submitted). VUV and Mid-UV photoabsorption cross sections of thin films of guanine and uracil.
Stalport, F., Guan, Y.Y., Coll, P., Szopa, C., Macari, F., Raulin, F., Chaput, D. & Cottin, H. (2010a). ‘UV-olution, a photochemistry experiment in Low Earth Orbit’: investigation of the photostability of carboxylic acids exposed to Mars surface UV radiation conditions. Astrobiology 10, 449461.
Stalport, F., Guan, Y.Y., Noblet, A., Coll, P., Szopa, C., Macari, F., Person, A., Raulin, F., Chaput, D. & Cottin, H. (2010b). UVolution, a photochemistry experiment in low earth orbit: investigation of the photostability of carbonates exposed to Martian-like UV radiation conditions. Planet. Space Sci. 58, 16171624.
Ten Kate, I.L., Garry, J.R.C., Peeters, Z., Quinn, R., Foing, B. & Ehrenfreund, P. (2005). Amino acid photostability on the Martian surface. Meteoritics Planet. Sci. 40, 1185.
Thuillier, G., Floyd, L., Woods, T., Cebula, R., Hisenrath, E., Herse, M. & Labs, D. (2004a). Solar irradiance reference spectra. In Solar Variability and its Effects on Climate, ed. Pap, J.M. & Fox, P., pp. 171194. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC.
Thuillier, G., Floyd, L., Woods, T.N., Cebula, R., Hilsenrath, E., Hersé, M. & Labs, D. (2004b). Solar irradiance reference spectra for two solar active levels. Adv. Space Res. 34, 256261.
Vergne, J., Cottin, H., Silva, L.d., Brack, A., Chaput, D., Maurel, M.-C. (This issue). The AMINO experiment: RNA stability under solar radiations on the EXPOSE-R facility of the International Space Station. Int. J. Astrobiol.
Vigier, F., Le Postollec, A., Coussot, G., Chaput, D., Cottin, H., Berger, T., Incerti, S., Triqueneaux, S., Dobrijevic, M. & Vandenabeele-Trambouze, O. (2013). Preparation of the Biochip experiment on the EXPOSE-R2 mission outside the International Space Station. Adv. Space Res. 52, 21682179.
Waite, J.H., Young, D.T., Cravens, T.E., Coates, A.J., Crary, F.J., Magee, B. & Westlake, J. (2007). The process of tholin formation in Titan's upper atmosphere. Science 316, 870875.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed