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  • 1.
    Cockell, Charles S.
    et al.
    UK Centre for Astrobiology, SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Midlothian, UK.
    Martin-Torres, Javier
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. UK Centre for Astrobiology, SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Midlothian, UK; Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (UGR-CSIC), Granada, Spain .
    Zorzano, Maria-Paz
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), Torrejon de Ardoz, 28850 Madrid, Spain.
    Bhardwaj, Anshuman
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Soria-Salinas, Álvaro
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Mathanla, Thasshwin
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Israel Nazarious, Miracle
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Vakkada Ramachandran, Abhilash
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Suckling, Barbara
    Boulby Underground Laboratory, Boulby, UK.
    Subsurface scientific exploration of extraterrestrial environments (MINAR 5): analogue science, technology and education in the Boulby Mine, UK2019In: International Journal of Astrobiology, ISSN 1473-5504, E-ISSN 1475-3006, Vol. 18, no 2, p. 157-182Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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.

  • 2.
    Israel Nazarious, Miracle
    et al.
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Vakkada Ramachandran, Abhilash
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Zorzano, María-Paz
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Torrejon de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain.
    Martin-Torres, Javier
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Calibration and preliminary tests of the Brine Observation Transition To Liquid Experiment on HABIT/ExoMars 2020 for demonstration of liquid water stability on Mars2019In: Acta Astronautica, ISSN 0094-5765, E-ISSN 1879-2030, Vol. 162, p. 497-510Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The search for unequivocal proofs of liquid water on present day Mars is a prominent domain of research with implications on habitability and future Mars exploration. The HABIT (Habitability: Brines, Irradiation, and Temperature) instrument that will be on-board the ExoMars 2020 Surface Platform (ESA-IKI Roscosmos) will investigate the habitability of present day Mars, monitoring temperature, winds, dust conductivity, ultraviolet radiation and liquid water formation. One of the components of HABIT is the experiment BOTTLE (Brine Observation Transition To Liquid Experiment). The purposes of BOTTLE are to: (1) quantify the formation of transient liquid brines; (2) observe their stability over time under non-equilibrium conditions; and (3) serve as an In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technology demonstrator for water moisture capture. In this manuscript, we describe the calibration procedure of BOTTLE with standard concentrations of brines, the calibration function and the coefficients needed to interpret the observations on Mars.

    BOTTLE consists of six containers: four of them are filled with different deliquescent salts that have been found on Mars (calcium-perchlorate, magnesium-perchlorate, calcium-chloride, and sodium-perchlorate); and two containers that are open to the air, to collect atmospheric dust. The salts are exposed to the Martian environment through a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter (to comply with planetary protection protocols). The deliquescence process will be monitored by observing the changes in electrical conductivity (EC) in each container: dehydrated salts show low EC, hydrated salts show medium EC and, liquid brines show high EC values. We report and interpret the preliminary test results using the BOTTLE engineering model in representative conditions; and we discuss how this concept can be adapted to other exploration missions.

    Our laboratory observations show that 1.2 g of anhydrous calcium-chloride captures about 3.7 g of liquid water as brine passing through various possible hydrate forms. This ISRU technology could potentially be the first attempt to understand the formation of transient liquid water on Mars and to develop self-sustaining in-situ water harvesting on Mars for future human and robotic missions.

  • 3.
    Mathanla, Thasshwin
    et al.
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Bhardwaj, Anshuman
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Vakkada Ramachandran, Abhilash
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology.
    Zorzano, María-Paz
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), Madrid, Spain.
    Martin-Torres, Javier
    Luleå University of Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Space Technology. Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-UGR), Granada, Spain.
    Cockell, Charles
    UK Centre of Astrobiology, SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Midlothian, UK.
    Paling, Sean
    Boulby Underground Laboratory, Boulby, UK.
    Edwards, Tom
    Boulby Underground Laboratory, Boulby, UK.
    Subsurface robotic exploration for geomorphology, astrobiology and mining during MINAR6 campaign, Boulby Mine, UK: part I (Rover development)2019In: International Journal of Astrobiology, ISSN 1473-5504, E-ISSN 1475-3006Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Autonomous exploration requires the use of movable platforms that carry a payload of instruments with a certain level of autonomy and communication with the operators. This is particularly challenging in subsurface environments, which may be more dangerous for human access and where communication with the surface is limited. Subsurface robotic exploration, which has been to date very limited, is interesting not only for science but also for cost-effective industrial exploitation of resources and safety assessments in mines. Furthermore, it has a direct application to exploration of extra-terrestrial subsurface environments of astrobiological and geological significance such as caves, lava tubes, impact or volcanic craters and subglacial conduits, for deriving in-situ mineralogical resources and establishing preliminary settlements. However, the technological solutions are generally tailor-made and are therefore considered as costly, fragile and environment-specific, further hindering their extensive and effective applications. To demonstrate the advantages of rover exploration for a broad-community, we have developed KORE (KOmpact Rover for Exploration); a low-cost, re-usable, rover multi-purpose platform. The rover platform has been developed as a technological demonstration for extra-terrestrial subsurface exploration and terrestrial mining operations pertaining to geomorphological mapping, environmental monitoring, gas leak detections and search and rescue operations in case of an accident. The present paper, the first part of a series of two, focuses on describing the development of a robust rover platform to perform dedicated geomorphological, astrobiological and mining tasks. KORE was further tested in the Mine Analogue Research 6 (MINAR6) campaign during September 2018 in the Boulby mine (UK), the second deepest potash mine in Europe at a subsurface depth of 1.1 km, the results of which will be presented in the second paper of this series. KORE is a large, semi-autonomous rover weighing 160 kg with L × W × H dimensions 1.2 m × 0.8 m × 1 m and a payload carrying capacity of 100 kg using 800 W traction power that can power to a maximum speed of 8.4 km h−1. The rover can be easily dismantled in three parts facilitating its transportation to any chosen site of exploration. Presently, the main scientific payloads on KORE are: (1) a three-dimensional mapping camera, (2) a methane detection system, (3) an environmental station capable of monitoring temperature, relative humidity, pressure and gases such as NO2, SO2, H2S, formaldehyde, CO, CO2, O3, O2, volatile organic compounds and particulates and (4) a robotic arm. Moreover, the design of the rover allows for integration of more sensors as per the scientific requirements in future expeditions. At the MINAR6 campaign, the technical readiness of KORE was demonstrated during 6 days of scientific research in the mine, with a total of 22 h of operation.

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