Laboratory analysis of returned samples from the AMADEE-18 Mars analog mission


Lalla EA, Cote K, Hickson D, Garnitsching S, Konstantinidis M, Such P, Czakler C, Schroeder C, Frigeri A, Ercoli M, Losiak A, Gruber S & Groemer G (2020) Laboratory analysis of returned samples from the AMADEE-18 Mars analog mission. Astrobiology, 20 (11), pp. 1303-1320.

Between 01-28. February 2018, the Austrian Space Forum, in cooperation with the Oman Astronomical Society and research teams from 25 nations conducted the AMADEE-18 mission, a human-robotic Mars expedition simulation in the Dhofar region in the Sultanate of Oman As a part of the AMADEE-18 simulated Mars human exploration mission, the Remote Science Support team performed analysis of the Dhofar area, (Oman) in order to characterize it as a potential Mars analog site. The main motivation of this research was to study and register selected samples collected by the analog astronauts during the AMADEE-18 mission with laboratory analytical methods and techniques comparable to the techniques that will be used on Mars in the future. The 25 samples representing unconsolidated sediments obtained during the simulated mission were studied by using optical microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, and laser-induced fluorescence. The principal results showed the existence of minerals and the detection of alteration processes related to volcanism, hydrothermalism, and weathering. The analogy between the Dhofar region and the Eridana Basin region of Mars is clearly noticeable, particularly as an analog for secondary minerals formed in a hydrothermal seafloor volcanic-sedimentary environment. The synergy between the techniques used in the present work provides a solid basis for the geochemical analyses and organic detection in the context of future human-robotic Mars expeditions. AMADEE-18 has been a prime test bed for geoscientific workflows with astrobiological relevance and has provided valuable insights for future space missions.

Planetary exploration; combined instrumentation methods; Astrobiology; simulated space mission

Astrobiology: Volume 20, Issue 11

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online30/11/2020
Date accepted by journal26/02/2020