Subsurface scientific exploration of extraterrestrial environments (MINAR 5):analogue science, technology and education in the Boulby Mine, UK

Authors Organisations
  • Charles S. Cockell(Author)
    University of Edinburgh
  • John Holt(Author)
    University of Leicester
  • Jim Campbell(Author)
    University of Leicester
  • Harrison Groseman(Author)
    University of Leicester
  • Jean-Luc Josset(Author)
    Space Exploration Institute
  • Tomaso R. R. Bontognali(Author)
    ETH Zurich
  • Audra Phelps(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Lilit Hakobyan(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Libby Kuretn(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Annalea Beattie(Author)
    Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
  • Jen Blank(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Rosalba Bonaccorsi(Author)
    Ames Research Center
    SETI Institute’s Carl Sagan Center
  • Christopher McKay(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Anushree Shirvastava(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Carol Stoker(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • David Willson(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Scott McLaughlin(Author)
    University of Edinburgh
  • Sam Payler(Author)
    University of Edinburgh
  • Adam Stevens(Author)
    University of Edinburgh
  • Jennifer Wadsworth(Author)
    Ames Research Center
  • Loredana Bessone(Author)
    European Astronaut Center
  • Matthias Maurer(Author)
    European Astronaut Center
  • Francesco Sauro(Author)
    University of Bologna
  • Javier Martín-Torres(Author)
    University of Edinburgh
    Luleå University of Technology
    Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra
  • Maria-Paz Zorzano(Author)
    Luleå University of Technology
    Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)
  • Anshuman Bhardwaj(Author)
    Luleå University of Technology
  • Alvaro Soria-Salinas(Author)
    Luleå University of Technology
  • Thasshwin Mathanlal(Author)
    Luleå University of Technology
  • Miracle Israel Nazarious(Author)
    Luleå University of Technology
  • Abhilash Vakkada Ramachandran(Author)
    Luleå University of Technology
  • Parag Vaishampayan(Author)
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • Lisa Guan(Author)
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • Scott M. Perl(Author)
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
    University of Southern California
    Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Jon Telling(Author)
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Ian M. Boothroyd(Author)
    University of Durham
  • Ollie Tyson(Author)
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • James Realff(Author)
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Joseph Rowbottom(Author)
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Boris Lauernt(Author)
  • Matt Gunn(Author)
  • Shaily Shah(Author)
    Kalam Center
  • Srijan Singh(Author)
    Kalam Center
  • Christopher Toth(Author)
    STFC Boulby Underground Science Facility
  • Paul Scovell(Author)
    STFC Boulby Underground Science Facility
  • Barbara Suckling(Author)
    STFC Boulby Underground Science Facility
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-182
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Astrobiology
Volume18
Issue number2
Early online date02 Jul 2018
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2019
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Abstract

The deep subsurface of other planetary bodies is of special interest for robotic and human exploration. The subsurface provides access to planetary interior processes, thus yielding insights into planetary formation and evolution. On Mars, the subsurface might harbour the most habitable conditions. In the context of human exploration, the subsurface can provide refugia for habitation from extreme surface conditions. We describe the fifth Mine Analogue Research (MINAR 5) programme at 1 km depth in the Boulby Mine, UK in collaboration with Spaceward Bound NASA and the Kalam Centre, India, to test instruments and methods for the robotic and human exploration of deep environments on the Moon and Mars. The geological context in Permian evaporites provides an analogue to evaporitic materials on other planetary bodies such as Mars. A wide range of sample acquisition instruments (NASA drills, Small Planetary Impulse Tool (SPLIT) robotic hammer, universal sampling bags), analytical instruments (Raman spectroscopy, Close-Up Imager, Minion DNA sequencing technology, methane stable isotope analysis, biomolecule and metabolic life detection instruments) and environmental monitoring equipment (passive air particle sampler, particle detectors and environmental monitoring equipment) was deployed in an integrated campaign. Investigations included studying the geochemical signatures of chloride and sulphate evaporitic minerals, testing methods for life detection and planetary protection around human-tended operations, and investigations on the radiation environment of the deep subsurface. The MINAR analogue activity occurs in an active mine, showing how the development of space exploration technology can be used to contribute to addressing immediate Earth-based challenges. During the campaign, in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA), MINAR was used for astronaut familiarization with future exploration tools and techniques. The campaign was used to develop primary and secondary school and primary to secondary transition curriculum materials on-site during the campaign which was focused on a classroom extra vehicular activity simulation

Keywords

  • analog reearch, astrobiology, Mars, subsurface, technology