2010 Annual Science Report

Carnegie Institution of Washington Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

Project 6: Application of Laboratory Experimentation to Flight Instrument Testing

Project Summary

The Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) tests instruments, procedures and protocols to answer critical science questions on Mars. NAI sponsored researchers undertake science tasks alongside scientists developing instruments for Mars missions (MSL and ExoMars).

4 Institutions
3 Teams
19 Publications
1 Field Site
Field Sites

Project Progress

CoI Steele has been extensively involved in Astrobiology relevant flight instrument testing. Support over the past funding period is derived from the CIW-NAI grant as well a NASA ASTEP (Steele PI). From 9–25 August 2010, 38 scientists and engineers involved in Mars exploration took part in the Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) 2009 in the Svalbard archipelago, Norway, organised by Hans Amundsen (EPX Expedition lead) and CoI Andrew Steele (Carnegie Institution Science lead). The scientific goal of AMASE is to study the geology, geophysics, biosignatures, and life forms that can be found in volcanic complexes, warm springs, subsurface ice, and sedimentary deposits considered good analogues to sites on ancient Mars.

The Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expeditions (AMASE) 2010 was the latest of a series of expeditions that are NASA ASTEP and ESA funded and have as their primary goals 1) testing portable instruments for their robustness as field instruments for life detection, 2) assessing Mars analogue environments for abiosignatures and biosignatures, 3) refining protocols for contamination reduction, 4) defining a minimal instrument suite for Astrobiology science on Mars and 5) sample acquisition, collection and caching of suitable samples by rover platforms containing sample acquisition hardware: first Cliffbot, then Athena. As well as testing ESA instrumentation for the ExoMars mission and NASA instruments for Mars Science Laboratory, the goals and technologies used during this 2010 campaign are very similar to that proposed by the current MEPAG MAX-C mission concept and therefore set the stage for future sample return missions. As such the field-tested technologies, procedures and protocols can be used to address specific science objectives proposed for the 2018 Mars mission opportunity. As NASA and ESA enter a new era of collaboration, AMASE has provided and will continue to provide, a test bed for both current in-situ robotic missions and Mars Sample Return mission architectures. AMASE has proved to be a unique platform to build understanding and collaboration amongst scientists and engineers from Europe and the USA.

AMASE 2010 team (other than those mentioned above): Ivar Midtkandal, Kjell Ove Storvik, Garret Huntress, Verena Starke, Pan Conrad, Francis McCubbin, Tor Viscor, Antonio Sensano, Laureline Josset, Jean-Luc Josset, Mihaela Glamoclija, Steve Squyres, Inge Loes Ten Kate, Kyong Hou, Jen Stern, Amy McAdam, Dave Blake, Dick Morris, Claire Cousins, Arnold Bauer, Carole Phillippon, Eckhard Steinmetz, Dave Potts, Dominique Tobler, Guillermo Lopez.

Field deployable prototypes of several instruments on board Mars Science Laboratory and ESA ExoMars mission were tested alongside each other. Instruments to be tested on AMASE 2010 included;

1. The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite, SAM on AMASE 10 conducted Evolved Gas Analysis-Mass Spectrometry (EGA-MS) analyses coupled with carbon isotope measurements of evolved CO2 using cavity ring down spectroscopy as a proxy for the Tunable Laser Spectrometry.
2. A GC system bread board for MoMA for the ExoMars mission
3. CLUPI – the close up imager system for ExoMars
4. Raman / LIBS system for ExoMars.
5. CheMin an XRD system for MSL.
6. PanCam – panoramic camera system for ExoMars
7. Rock crushing system for ExoMars.
8. VAPOR – evolved gas mass spectrometer in development for missions.
9. The Mini 11.5 ion trap mass spectrometer in development for missions
10. A sample curation system for Mars Sample Return

Specific science goals on AMASE this year revolved around 2 field sites. The Sigurdfjell volcano that contains carbonate, basalt, peridotite outcrops and a fossilized methane cold seep. The goal was to distinguish between abiotic and biotically influenced carbonate deposition by studying the context and analyzing a range of carbonate samples from two main field sites. Results from AMASE 10