Investigation of biological, chemical and physical processes on and in planetary surfaces by laboratory simulation
by Sears, D. W. G.; Benoit, P. H.; McKeever, S. W. S.; Banerjee, D.; Kral, T.; Stites, W.; Roe, L.; Jansma, P.; Mattioli, G.
The recently established Arkansas-Oklahoma Center for Space and Planetary Science has been given a large planetary simulation chamber by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. When completely refurbished, the chamber will be dubbed Andromeda and it will enable conditions in space, on asteroids, on comet nuclei, and on Mars, to be reproduced on the meter-scale and surface and subsurface processes monitored using a range of analytical instruments. The following projects are currently planned for the facility. (I) Examination of the role of surface and subsurface processes on small bodies in the formation of meteorites. (2) Development of in situ sediment dating instrumentation for Mars. (3) Studies of the survivability of methanogenic microorganisms under conditions resembling the subsurface of Mars to test the feasibility of such species surviving on Mars and identify the characteristics of the species most likely to be present on Mars. (4) The nature of the biochemical "fingerprints" likely to have been left by live organisms on Mars from a study of degradation products of biologically related molecules. (5) Testing local resource utilization in spacecraft design. (6) Characterization of surface effects on reflectivity spectra for comparison with the data from spacecraft-borne instruments on Mars orbiters.