Intensive course: Mineralogy of planetary surfaces and biosignatures

In May 2021 we will offer an intensive DEEP course (5 ECTS) on Mineralogy of planetary surfaces and biosignatures. If you are interested in joining the course please save the dates May 10 - 14 2021. Morning lectures and afternoon sessions with student presentations and discussions. All online.


Vago et a. 2017. Astrobiology


Register within 05 March 2021 by filling out our online application form.

  • Mineralogy of planetary surfaces and biosignatures (GEO-DEEP9506) is mainly an offer to PhD candidates enrolled in the Norwegian Research School for Dynamics and Evolution of Earth and Planets (DEEP). If you want to become a member, register through our online form available on our web page.
  • PhD candidates who are admitted to other education institutions than UiO must apply for visiting PhD status to be able to take the exam. This is easily done through registration form by supplying the right documentation and information. Your study right at UiO will be limited to this course.
  • Master students and postdocs are welcome to follow the course as well, but we cannot offer you an exam result directly.
  • Our capacity is not unlimited so we will make the final decision on who will get a spot based on your background and motivation.
Illustration/figure: Vago et al. 2017, Astrobiology.
Illustration/figure: Vago et al. 2017, Astrobiology.

Course content 

This Special Topics course series explores state-of-the-art principles, methods, and techniques within selected topics in DEEP research school themes. During this course we will introduce the basics of how we can study mineralogy of extraterrestrial bodies and how to retrieve information on biosignatures from this.

In general, the course includes:

  • Early Earth and first record of life
  • Biosignatures versus habitability. Habitable environments
  • Mineralogy and aqueous trends in carbonaceous chondrites
  • Organic matter in carbonaceous chondrites
  •  Hayabusa 2 and Osiris REx - overview of sample return goals
  • Current missions to Mars - overview
  • Mars surface from remote sensing
  • Mars mineralogy and aqueous record from meteorites
  • Biosignature detections on Mars – methods and results
  • Laboratory experiments on biosignature preservation

Learning outcome

After completing the course students will have a fundamental knowledge on mineralogy of surfaces of rocky planets and relation to biosignatures.

  •  Will understand difference between habitability and biosignatures.

  • Will understand how geological record is supportive in analysis of life formation and habitability of environments.

  •  Will be familiar with methods (both laboratory and remote sensing) used to study mineralogy of extraterrestrial bodies.

  • Will get familiar with role of analogue rocks and experiments in studies of extraterrestrial matter.

  •  Will understand challenges in biosignature preservation and detection methods.

  • Will get overview of current space missions, their goals and approaches.

For the full course description follow the link.

Prior to the course

Prior to the course week the students will receive relevant information and course materials from lecturers in order for preparation.


The students will be asked to prepare a short presentation on a topic related to the course content. The students will choose the topic from the list provided by lecturers or we are open to receive presentations that are related to subject of habitability but beyond the course content (e.g. habitability of icy bodies, exoplanets etc). The final exam will be held on the last day of the course.



Benjamin Bultel, Ashley King, Agata Krzesinska, Zita Martins, Stephen Mojzsis, Sandra Siljestrom, Cathy Quantin-Nataf, and Sean McMahon



DEEP research school
Published Nov. 20, 2020 9:38 AM - Last modified Apr. 14, 2021 12:09 PM