• portable Raman spectrometer;
  • low-temperature field measurements;
  • nitrogen-containing organics


Well-resolved Raman spectra of samples of nitrogen-containing compounds were detected using a portable Raman instrument (Ahura First Defender XL) outdoors at a low ambient temperature of −15 °C and at an altitude of 2860 m (Pitztall, Austria). The portable Raman spectrometer tested here is equipped with a 785-nm diode laser and a fixed frontal probe. Solid form of formamide, urea, 3-methylpyridine, aniline, indene, 1-(2-aminoethyl)piperazine, indoline and benzofuran were detected unambiguously under high-mountain field conditions. The main Raman features (strong, medium and partially weak bands) were observed at the correct wavenumber positions (with a spectral resolution 7–10 cm−1) in the wavenumber range 200–1600 cm−1. The results obtained demonstrate the possibility of employing a miniaturised Raman spectrometer as a key instrument for investigating the presence of nitrogen-containing organic compounds and biomolecules outdoors under low temperature conditions. Within the payload designed by European Space Agency (ESA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for future missions, focussing not only on Mars, Raman spectroscopy represents an important instrumentation for the detection of organic nitrogen-containing compounds relevant to life detection on planetary surfaces or near sub-surfaces. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.