Planetary science and exploration in the deep subsurface: results from the MINAR Program, Boulby Mine, UK

Payler, S. J. et al. (2017) Planetary science and exploration in the deep subsurface: results from the MINAR Program, Boulby Mine, UK. International Journal of Astrobiology, 16(2), pp. 114-129. (doi:10.1017/S1473550416000045)

[img]
Preview
Text
122750.pdf - Accepted Version

1MB

Abstract

The subsurface exploration of other planetary bodies can be used to unravel their geological history and assess their habitability. On Mars in particular, present-day habitable conditions may be restricted to the subsurface. Using a deep subsurface mine, we carried out a program of extraterrestrial analog research – MINe Analog Research (MINAR). MINAR aims to carry out the scientific study of the deep subsurface and test instrumentation designed for planetary surface exploration by investigating deep subsurface geology, whilst establishing the potential this technology has to be transferred into the mining industry. An integrated multi-instrument suite was used to investigate samples of representative evaporite minerals from a subsurface Permian evaporite sequence, in particular to assess mineral and elemental variations which provide small-scale regions of enhanced habitability. The instruments used were the Panoramic Camera emulator, Close-Up Imager, Raman spectrometer, Small Planetary Linear Impulse Tool, Ultrasonic drill and handheld X-ray diffraction (XRD). We present science results from the analog research and show that these instruments can be used to investigate in situ the geological context and mineralogical variations of a deep subsurface environment, and thus habitability, from millimetre to metre scales. We also show that these instruments are complementary. For example, the identification of primary evaporite minerals such as NaCl and KCl, which are difficult to detect by portable Raman spectrometers, can be accomplished with XRD. By contrast, Raman is highly effective at locating and detecting mineral inclusions in primary evaporite minerals. MINAR demonstrates the effective use of a deep subsurface environment for planetary instrument development, understanding the habitability of extreme deep subsurface environments on Earth and other planetary bodies, and advancing the use of space technology in economic mining.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Li, Dr Xuan and Harkness, Dr Patrick
Authors: Payler, S. J., Biddle, J. F., Coates, A. J., Cousins, C. R., Cross, R. E., Cullen, D. C., Downs, M. T., Direito, S. O. L., Edwards, T., Gray, A. L., Genis, J., Gunn, M., Hansford, G. M., Harkness, P., Holt, J., Josset, J.-L., Li, X., Lees, D. S., Lim, D. S. S., Mchugh, M., Mcluckie, D., Meehan, E., Paling, S. M., Souchon, A., Yeoman, L., and Cockell, C. S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:International Journal of Astrobiology
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1473-5504
ISSN (Online):1475-3006
Published Online:20 April 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in International Journal of Astrobiology 16(2): 114-129
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record