first_imgWith proposals that micro-miniaturised Raman spectrometers could soon be part of a suite of analytical instrumentation on the surface of Mars, it is critically important to examine the spectral information that could be forthcoming from attempts to determine key molecular biosignatures under the hostile conditions of extra-terrestrial planetary exploration. Current approaches include the analysis of genuine martian geological material in the form of the SNC class meteorites, the formulation of simulated martian regoliths and the examination of putative martian terrestrial analogues; the latter provide the basis of this paper in the form of Antarctic extremophile habitats. In particular, specimens of epilithic, chasmolithic and endolithic lichen and cyanobacterial colonies sampled along a progressively worsening transect towards a “limits of life” situation, beyond which survival of organisms becomes impossible, provide what is arguably the best terrestrial proving-ground for prototype Raman spectrometers for martian exploration. Here, we report the results of experiments on these extant Antarctic extremophile colonies using a range of Raman excitation wavelengths and experimental conditions and also include a compilation of molecular spectral biosignatures, which may be considered as a suitable database for recognition of bioorganic modification of geological strata.last_img read more


first_imgIn an official statement available on the University website, and emailed to all students, the Vice-Chancellor also said, \”It is deeply regrettable, as the University has made clear, that the Government is reducing drastically direct public investment in university teaching – and that in a country which already spends less in percentage terms than the OECD average on higher education.\”Many students and tutors have expressed concerns about the University\’s decision. The Oxford University Committee for Higher Education (OUCHE) have been actively campaigning for a complete scrapping of tuition fees and are still working to amend the Council\’s decision.One of the founding members of OUCHE, and a fellow and tutor in Physiological Sciences at Worcester, John Parrington, commented, \”I know the University is planning bursaries, but I fear that the students most in need of them will have the least information and confidence to apply for them.\”Univ Politics tutor, Dr Pablo Beramendi, agreed that there were issues with the proposals. He said, \”The current solution hurts everyone because it combines a compromise that means a lot of effort to middle and low income families and extracts far too little from high income families.\”Beramendi also expressed his view that fees should rise even more for those from higher income backgrounds who were able to afford them, in order \”to avoid this perverse redistribution effect\” and to provide funds \”which fully support talented candidates from middle and low income backgrounds\”.On the other hand, Jon-Paul Spencer, a first year PPE student at Univ, said, \”As long as the University increase bursaries and advertise the fact that graduates rather than parents pay back the fees then the changes won\’t be as bad as they first seem.\”Hannah Booker, the JCR Access and Academic Affairs Officer at Lincoln, commented, \”it would have been a powerful message for Oxford to send by not setting fees at the maximum possible level.\”She added, \”this large raise may put some people off applying who are otherwise very able to get in. I think Oxford need to ensure they publicise the fantastic bursary scheme they have in place to ensure this doesn\’t happen.\”Corpus Christi JCR President, Jack Evans, said, \”While this package doesn\’t go far enough as I would have liked, I think this does show the impact both JCRs and OUSU can have on policy making decisions within the University.\”David Barclay and OUSU must be congratulated by students in leading the way on this issue and making sure Oxford remains a institution which is avaliable for everyone, regardless of their financial position.\”At certain points during this campaign it seemed like the Bursary scheme would be cut, so to get an increase is a massive achievement. Overall this is a day in which, despite the awful situation presented to us by the coalition, Oxford students can be proud.\”The President of OUSU, David Barclay, told the BBC that he supported the steps the University is taking to lessen the blow to the poorest students and said, \”Oxford has sent out a message that we will not leave a generation of bright young students confused and excluded by the new fees system.\”The percentage of successful applicants to Oxford who come from state schools has increased by 3% on last year\’s figures, to 58.5% for 2011 entry. If, as many fear, the increased fees discourage students from poorer backgrounds from applying then it will be widely seen as undoing this progress that has been made in widening access to Oxford.The government has told universities in England that they could be denied the right to charge fees up to the highest level of £9,000 unless they take measures to attract a wider mix of students. Oxford University is going to increase tuition fees to the maximum £9,000 per year from 2012, a decision which came after a meeting of the University\’s ruling council on Monday.The new fees system, which will come into operation from 2012/13, will work on a sliding scale with students from the lowest income households having their tuition fees capped at £3,500 for their first year, and £6,000 in the following years. Students on household incomes of higher than £25,000 will be charged the full £9,000.When the details are finalised on Thursday, this week\’s decision will make Oxford the fourth university to officially decide to increase fees to the new maximum level, along with Cambridge, Imperial and Exeter.The government\’s Office for Fair Access has declared that any universities that choose to increase fees to the new maximum level must invest up to £900 from every £9,000 fee paid in targeting applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds.Oxford has pledged that, out of the £10 million of extra income that the changes will bring in, the university will ring-fence £7 million to be spent on increased outreach schemes, bursaries and student support services.Details of the proposed new bursaries were outlined, which will see around 10% of students receive the highest bursary of £4,300 in their first year of study, and £3,300 thereafter. Bursaries will also extend to students with annual household incomes of up to £42,000, on a sliding scale. The Oxford Opportunity Bursary is currently awarded on a sliding scale to those with household incomes up to £50,020.Cambridge University made a decision in the last few days to offer students a choice of a bursary or a fee waiver, rather than both as outlined in Oxford\’s decision, after protests from academics and students against a proposal to cut bursaries.The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, has said, \”These proposals show the strength of our commitment to being accessible for all, and to attracting the very brightest students, whatever their circumstances.\”last_img read more