Mars in a BoxApril 11, 2014 / Written by: Sheyna E. Gifford
Researchers at the Centro de Astrobiología (CAB) in Madrid, Spain, have developed a Mars simulator that replicates almost all of the environmental variables on the red planet that pose a challenge for exploration equipment.
MARTE is a modular simulation chamber, and its flexible design allows scientists to re-configure the chamber to accommodate equipment of different sizes and shapes. The environment inside MARTE is also tuneable, allowing researchers to adjust factors like pressure, temperature and atmospheric composition. Unlike previous Mars environment chambers, MARTE features a never-before-seen martian dust simulator.
MARTE has already been used to test instruments for missions that are helping astrobiologists understand life’s potential (both past and present) on Mars. One of MARTE’s first tasks was testing designs for Curiosity’s Air Temperature Sensors. Soon, the Temperature and Wind meteorological station for InSight will but put through its paces inside MARTE. Further down the road, MARTE could be testing instruments for the Mars 2020 Mission, including the proposed Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer and Sign of Life Detector (SOLID).
The team behind MARTE recently published details of the simulator in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.
The Centro de Astrobiología is an International Partner of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
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