The ultraviolet researcher to investigate the emergence of life: a mission proposal to ESA's F-call

Gómez de Castro, Ana I.; de Isidro-Gómez, Ana I.; de Leyva, Diego; Bachiotti, Francesca; de León Cruz, Julia; Ribes, Pol; Casalta, Joan Manel; Miravet, Carlos; Vallejo, Juan C.; Sachkov, Mikhail; Canet, Ada; Shustov, Boris; de la Fuente, Raúl; France, Kevin; Patty, Lucas; Benetti, Stefano; ud-Doula, Asif
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Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series

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The mission Ultraviolet Researcher to Investigate the Emergence of Life (URIEL) is designed to carry out low dispersion (600-1,000) UV spectropolarimetry in the 140-400 nm spectral range to investigate the formation of planetary systems, its interaction with stellar winds and search for signatures of prebiotic molecules by remote sensing of small bodies in the Solar System (comets and meteorites) in near Earth orbit. URIEL is conceived as a 50cm primary telescope with a RitcheyChrétien mounting. The telescope is equipped with a single instrument, the ultraviolet spectropolarimeter, whose low dispersion will enable resolving the main spectral features whilst guaranteeing enough flux per resolution element for the Stokes parameters to be measured to an accuracy of 500 ppm in the full range. According to recent calculations based on the chemical analysis of meteorites, this accuracy suffices for the remote detection of alanine by its optical activity at 180 nm in nearby minor bodies. In this sense, URIEL is a pathfinder mission to the technology that will enable remote sensing of amino acids and addressing the source of the chirality imbalance in Earth's bio-molecules.