Cyril Szopa

Cyril Szopa
Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin | UVSQ · Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de l´UVSQ (OVSQ)

PhD
Look for organic matter in the solar system with in situ analysis and laboratory experiments

About

339
Publications
48,458
Reads
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9,224
Citations
Introduction
I currently work on the research for organic molecules at the Mars (SAM experiment onboard the NASA/Curiosity rover, MOMA experiment onboard the ESA/Rosalind Franklin rover) and Titan (DraMS experiment that will be onboard the NASA Dragonfly drone) surface. I work on operating and developing instruments based on gas chromatography mass spectrometry for that purpose, and for SAM which works on Mars, I work on its data interpretation. I also work on instrumental concepts for future space missions.
Additional affiliations
September 2015 - August 2020
Institut Universitaire de France
Position
  • Junior Member
September 2013 - present
Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 2012 - September 2014
Education
September 1997 - August 1998
Université Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne - Université Paris 12
Field of study
  • Atmospheric Pollution Chemistry and Physics of the Environment
September 1996 - August 1997
Sorbonne Université
Field of study
  • Chemical Physics
September 1995 - August 1996
Sorbonne Université
Field of study
  • Chemical Physics

Publications

Publications (339)
Article
Full-text available
The Philae lander of the Rosetta space mission made a non-nominal landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014. Shortly after, using the limited power available from Philae’s batteries, the COSAC instrument performed a single 18-minutes gas chromatogram, which has remained unpublished until now due to the lack of identifiable elu...
Article
Full-text available
The cometary Rosetta mission visited the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov‐Gerasimenko by placing the Philae Lander on its surface. Philae was equipped with a time‐of‐flight mass spectrometer that analyzed, for the first time, cometary surface material in situ. Uwe J. Meierhenrich and co‐workers describe in their Research Article (DOI: 10.1002/anie.20...
Article
Full-text available
The Philae lander of the Rosetta space mission made a non‐nominal landing on comet 67P/Churyumov‐Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014. Shortly after, using the limited power available from Philae's batteries, the COSAC instrument performed a single 18‐minutes gas chromatogram, which has remained unpublished until now due to the lack of identifiable elu...
Article
Die Rosetta‐Kometenmission erforschte den Kern des Kometen 67P/Churyumov‐Gerasimenko durch Absetzen des Philae Lander auf der Kometenoberfläche. Philae war mit einem Flugzeit‐Massenspektrometer ausgestattet, mit dem erstmals das Material der Kometenoberfläche in situ analysiert wurde. Uwe J. Meierhenrich und Mitarbeiter beschreiben in ihrem Forschu...
Article
Full-text available
The most pristine material of the Solar System is assumed to be preserved in comets in the form of dust and ice as refractory matter. ESA’s mission Rosetta and its lander Philae had been developed to investigate the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov‐Gerasimenko in situ. Twenty‐five minutes after the initial touchdown of Philae on the surface of comet...
Article
Full-text available
The most pristine material of the Solar System is assumed to be preserved in comets in the form of dust and ice as refractory matter. ESA’s mission Rosetta and its lander Philae had been developed to investigate the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov‐Gerasimenko in situ. Twenty‐five minutes after the initial touchdown of Philae on the surface of comet...
Article
Full-text available
The Europan Molecular Indicators of Life Investigation (EMILI) is an instrument concept being developed for the Europa Lander mission currently under study. EMILI will meet and exceed the scientific and technical/resource requirements of the organic composition analyzer identified as a core instrument on the Lander. EMILI tightly couples two comple...
Article
Full-text available
In response to ESA’s “Voyage 2050” announcement of opportunity, we propose an ambitious L-class mission to explore one of the most exciting bodies in the Solar System, Saturn’s largest moon Titan. Titan, a “world with two oceans”, is an organic-rich body with interior-surface-atmosphere interactions that are comparable in complexity to the Earth. T...
Article
Full-text available
The wet chemistry experiments on the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument on NASA’s Curiosity rover were designed to facilitate gas chromatography mass spectrometry analyses of polar molecules such as amino acids and carboxylic acids. Here we present the results of such a successful wet chemistry experiment on Mars on sand scooped from the Bagnold Du...
Article
Full-text available
Enceladus is the first planetary object for which direct sampling of a subsurface water reservoir, likely habitable, has been performed. Over a decade of flybys and seven flythroughs of its watery plume, the Cassini spacecraft determined that Enceladus possesses all the ingredients for life. The existence of active eruptions blasting fresh water in...
Preprint
Full-text available
In response to ESA Voyage 2050 announcement of opportunity, we propose an ambitious L-class mission to explore one of the most exciting bodies in the Solar System, Saturn largest moon Titan. Titan, a "world with two oceans", is an organic-rich body with interior-surface-atmosphere interactions that are comparable in complexity to the Earth. Titan i...
Article
N-tert-butyldimethylsilyl-N-methyltrifluoroacetamide (MTBSTFA), mixed with the solvent N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF), is used as a derivatizing reagent by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment onboard NASA's Curiosity rover and will soon be utilized by the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer experiment onboard the ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ro...
Article
Full-text available
NASA’s Dragonfly mission will send a rotorcraft lander to the surface of Titan in the mid-2030s. Dragonfly's science themes include investigation of Titan’s prebiotic chemistry, habitability, and potential chemical biosignatures from both water-based “life as we know it” (as might occur in the interior mantle ocean, potential cryovolcanic flows, an...
Article
For analytical purpose, thermal desorption is now used in gas chromatographs developed to analyse the chemical composition of planetary environments. Due to technical constraints, the thermal desorption cannot be as finely controlled as in the laboratory resulting in possible thermal alteration of the adsorbents used. For these reasons, the influen...
Presentation
The search for organic molecules is one of the main goals of current and future Martian space missions. Many sources of organic molecules may exist at the surface of this planet: exogenous sources, such as the interplanetary medium, and/or endogenous sources, like hydrothermalism or a potential biological activity. However, only a few organics have...
Article
Full-text available
The OKEANOS mission utilizing the Solar Power Sail is one of the candidates of the strategic middle-class space exploration to the outer Solar System lead by the JAXA. The mission is planning to be launched in 2030's, and rendezvous for spectral observations and landing for in-situ measurements of light isotopes and organic molecules to a D or P ty...
Article
The Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments onboard the Exomars 2022 and Mars Science Laboratory rovers, respectively, are capable of organic matter detection and differentiating potentially biogenic from abiotic organics in martian samples. To identify organics, both these instruments utilize pyrolysis-g...
Article
Full-text available
The search for organic molecules at the surface of Mars is a key objective in astrobiology, given that many organic compounds are possible biosignatures and their presence is of interest with regard to the habitability of Mars. Current environmental conditions at the martian surface are harsh and affect the stability of organic molecules. For this...
Article
Full-text available
The Cumberland drill sample from the Sheepbed mudstone in Gale Crater, Mars, revealed the first evidence of an indigenous Martian organic molecule, chlorobenzene, with the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument on Curiosity. We created in the laboratory a mineralogical analog of the Cumberland sample (CBA) to aid in the understanding of the precu...
Article
Full-text available
2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Most of the organics detected on Mars so far are aliphatic and aromatic organo-chlorine compounds. The smallest were first identified by the thermal treatment of the solid samples by Viking in 1976; although at the time, they were attributed to contamination. Since 2012, a larger variety of str...
Article
Tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) is one of the most popular methylation reagents that have been increasingly used for the detection of organic compounds within a wide range of samples, such as soil, coal, lacquer, lignin, polymers and for in situ analysis of solid samples by space experiments. The analytical methods and instruments, experimenta...
Article
Mars is our planetary neighbor and is now known to host trace levels of organic matter at its surface. However, little is known of the organic molecular composition or the survival potential for organic biosignatures, such as the enantiomeric excess of amino acids or the carbon chain patterns of lipid hydrocarbons, as a function of depth below the...
Article
Chromatographic analysis of the Cumberland mudstone in Gale crater by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument revealed the detection of two to three isomers of dichlorobenzene. Their individual concentrations were estimated to be in the 0.5-17 ppbw range relatively to the sample mass. We also report the first detection of trichloromethylpropan...
Article
Full-text available
The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) experiment on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Curiosity rover seeks evidence of organic compounds on the surface of Mars. Since the beginning of the mission, various organic molecules have been detected and identified. While several have been demonstrated to be indigenous to the Martian soil and r...
Experiment Findings
The spectra of the SPAN database will concern laboratory analogues of planetary atmospheric aerosols synthesized at LATMOS, either with a cold plasma experiment (Szopa et al. 2006) or with a photochemical reactor (Carrasco et al. 2013). Their structures are sub-micrometric spherical particles or thin organic films. The spectra will be in transmissi...
Article
The search for organic molecules at the surface of Mars is a top priority of the Mars Science Laboratory (NASA) and ExoMars 2020 (ESA) space missions. Their main goal is to search for past and/or present molecular compounds related to a potential prebiotic chemistry and/or a biological activity on the Red Planet. A key step to interpret their data...
Article
Full-text available
Due to its abundance and unique properties, water is a major actor in the formation and evolution of many planetary surfaces as well as a sensitive and reliable tracer of past geologic and climatic processes. Water ice is found in variable abundance at the surfaces of many Solar System objects, from the floor of permanently shadowed craters at the...
Article
Thermochemolysis of seven nucleobases-adenine, thymine, uracil, cytosine, guanine, xanthine, and hypoxanthine-in tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) was studied individually by pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry in the frame of the Mars surface exploration. The analyses were performed under conditions relevant to the Sample Analysis at...
Article
Jupiter's moon Europa is a prime target for the search for potential signs of life in the solar system. The Europa Lander Science Definition Team Report outlined investigations and measurement requirements on a future Europa Lander and has led us to consider application of powerful techniques such as pyrolysis and derivatization gas chromatography...
Article
The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM)instrument is a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer onboard the NASA Curiosity rover, currently operating on the surface of Mars. Organic compounds are of major importance with regard to questions of habitability and the potential presence of life on Mars, and one of the mission's main objectives is to analyze the o...
Article
Full-text available
The Mars Curiosity rover carries a diverse instrument payload to characterize habitable environments in the sedimentary layers of Aeolis Mons. One of these instruments is Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), which contains a mass spectrometer that is capable of detecting organic compounds via pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (py-GC-MS). To...
Article
In the Solar System, extra-terrestrial organic molecules have been found on cometary primitive objects, on Titan and Enceladus icy moons and on Mars. Identification could be achieved for simple organic species by remote sensing based on spectroscopic methods. However in situ mass spectrometry is a key technology to determine the nature of more comp...
Article
Full-text available
Kenig et al. comment on our 2015 reporting of laboratory analog experiments aimed at testing the stability of the hydrocarbon trap material used in the Sample Analysis on Mars (SAM) instrument on board the Curiosity Rover operating in Gale Crater on Mars. They propose chemical structures for some decomposition products of the Tenax TA polymer when...
Article
Full-text available
Molecular hydrogen (H2) from volcanic emissions is suggested to warm the Martian surface when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels dropped from the Noachian (4100 to 3700 Myr) to the Hesperian (3700 to 3000 Myr). Its presence is expected to shift the conversion of molecular nitrogen (N2) into different forms of fixed nitrogen (N). Here we present experiment...
Article
The Sample Analysis at Mars on the Curiosity rover analyzed the major volatile content of four eolian samples at three locations in Gale crater. The Rocknest sample was taken from an inactive sand shadow with a significant component of dust-sized grains, while Gobabeb and Ogunquit Beach samples were taken from different locations in the Bagnold Dun...
Article
Motivated by the recent detection of chlorobenzene by the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite on the Curiosity rover, and the identification of its carbon source as indigenous to the martian sample, we reexamined the original, microfilm preserved, Viking gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer data sets. We found evidence for the presence of chlor...
Article
Establishing the presence and state of organic matter, including its possible biosignatures, in martian materials has been an elusive quest, despite limited reports of the existence of organic matter on Mars. We report the in situ detection of organic matter preserved in lacustrine mudstones at the base of the ~3.5-billion-year-old Murray formation...
Article
In 2005, the complex permittivity of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan was measured by the PWA-MIP/HASI (Permittivity Wave Altimetry-Mutual Impedance Probe/Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument) experiment on board the Huygens probe. The analysis of these measurements was recently refined but could not be interpreted in terms of composition due...
Article
The emergence of life on the Earth has required a prior organic chemistry leading to the formation of prebiotic molecules. The origin and the evolution of the organic matter on the early Earth is not yet firmly understood. Several hypothesis, possibly complementary, are considered. They can be divided in two categories: endogenous and exogenous sou...
Article
In this work we provide measurements of the bidirectional reflectance in the VIS-NIR spectral range for a selection of laboratory samples to deduce parameters such as their visible spectrum, phase curve, hemispheric albedo and phase reddening. The aim is to simulate the reflectance of the comet nucleus in order to aid the interpretation of data fro...
Article
Full-text available
The Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) instrument onboard the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars rover (to launch in July, 2020) will analyze volatile and refractory organic compounds in martian surface and subsurface sediments. In this study, we describe the design, current status of development, and analytical capabilities of the instrument. Data acquired...
Article
Full-text available
The second ExoMars mission will be launched in 2020 to target an ancient location interpreted to have strong potential for past habitability and for preserving physical and chemical biosignatures (as well as abiotic/prebiotic organics). The mission will deliver a lander with instruments for atmospheric and geophysical investigations and a rover tas...
Article
This work is intended to be the second publication in a series of papers reporting on the spectro-photometric properties of cometary analogues measured in the laboratory. Herein, we provide in-situ hyperspectral imaging data in the 0.40–2.35 μm range from three sublimation experiments under simulated space conditions in thermal vacuum from samples...
Article
Organic matter has been continuously delivered by meteorites and comets to Mars since its formation, and possibly formed in situ by abiogenic and/or biogenic processes. This organic matter may be preserved from the harsh oxidizing environment of Mars in specific locations. Together with water, organic molecules are necessary to the emergence of lif...
Article
Full-text available
The Rosetta lander Philae successfully landed on the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014. Philae is equipped with two gas analyzers: The Cometary Sampling and Composition experiment (COSAC) and the gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer Ptolemy. On 12 to 14 November 2014 both instruments measured the organic composition...
Article
Context. The Rosetta lander Philae successfully landed on the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014. Philae is equipped with two gas analysers: The Cometary Sampling and Composition experiment (COSAC) and the gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer Ptolemy. Aims. COSAC is designed for in situ analysis of organic molecules o...
Conference Paper
Deltaic-lacustrine mudstones at Pahrump Hills, Gale Crater, Mars yielded a variety of sulfur-containing volatiles upon heating to 500-860°C, as detected by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument onboard the Curiosity rover. The detection of organosulfur compounds comprising thiophenes, dimethylsulfide and thiols by gas chromatography-mass spe...