Scientists at the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre are recreating the hostile environment found on Mars in their laboratory, with a device known as the Martian Environment Simulator (MES). The machine reproduces the temperature, air pressure and unbreathable atmosphere known to exist on Mars. The MES is currently being used to test equipment on the Beagle 2 lander, part of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Spacecraft and due to arrive on Mars during Christmas 2003. The chance of Beagle 2 finding life, either current or past, on the red planet has increased recently due to the discovery of ice beneath the planet’s surface. The MES will be used to test all future instruments for planetary science being developed at the Space Research Centre.
Instruments that work in space need to be thoroughly tested to ensure that they will work in the extreme conditions found there and also to calibrate the readings that will be transmitted back to Earth. Researchers need to be sure that the gases in the atmosphere of another planet will not cause electrical arcing that damages the instruments. The MES creates an environment where the air is made mostly of carbon dioxide and the temperature can vary between a freezing minus 10 degrees Celsius (Martian daytime temperature) and a deadly minus 80 degrees (Martian night). The Martian air pressure at the surface is only 6mbar compared to an average pressure of 1bar on Earth. This means that the air pressure at surface level is lower than that at which the highest altitude commercial flights can travel at on Earth!
The MES incorporates a special sample wheel where geological materials can be attached, making it possible to test instruments designed to analyse rocks or soil on the surface of Mars.
Gill Ormrod | alphagalileo
NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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