Life Science

The Life science section deals with the geological and chemical characterization of extraterrestrial bodies and space environment with particular interest in organic and prebiotic molecules, the search for extraterrestrial life biosignatures and the study of the effects of space conditions on lifeforms.


Development of payloads for life science in space

Miniaturized and/or lab-on-chip analytical devices for quali-quantitative detection of diagnostic biomarkers in biological fluids, life biomarkers in extraterrestrial environments and biological experiments in CubeSat platforms. Wearable ionizing radiation detectors (X-gamma-rays, protons, electrons) for a real time monitoring of the radiation dose received by astronauts or in space stations.


Microbial life and biosignatures in extreme environments, terrestrial analogues and habitat reconstruction. Lab-on-chip devices for detecting biomarkers of extant or extinct extraterrestrial life.


Spectroscopy and computational techniques applied to the study of mechanisms of molecules formation, prebiotic and complex organic molecules in terrestrial end extraterrestrial environments.

Planetary geology

Structure, composition, processes, and origin of major and minor planetary bodies and the effects of their interaction within the solar system. Field, laboratory, imagery and other data returned by spacecraft.

Development of spectroscopic instrumentation

Development of Chirped Pulse broadband Fourier Transform microwave spectrometer for spectral analysis of molecules, pre-biotic species, complex chemical mixtures.

Applications to astrobiology, astrochemistry, analysis of gas mixtures (i.e. atmospheres and breath analysis)

Testing of miniature sensors and spectrometers for in situ gas sensing.


  • Bioassay development for biomarkers of interest in complex biological or environmental samples.
  • Bioassays validation by advanced chromatographic mass spectrometry techniques.
  • Miniaturized bioanalytical devices design and rapid prototyping by 3D printing technologies.
  • Chemical analysis of complex mixtures.
  • Characterization of morphological and chemical biosignatures.
  • Reconstruction and characterization of extraterrestrial field sites.
  • Field site facility and portable lab. (Italy, Africa).
  • Experimental determination of spectroscopic properties of molecules, molecular mixtures and materials.


prof. Mara Mirasoli

Scientific responsible of the Life Science operative unit.

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