UTS Science in Focus: Earth vs. Mars – Battle of the Planets

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Today I have been instructed to keep things very simple, but I’ve always believed that my audience is always intelligent and informed. Basically I am going to talk for no reason at all about my own research. I am going to talk a little bit more about what we can learn from astronomy, what we can learn from planetary sciences. What we can learn when we observe other planets that we can also use in our understanding of what happens for planet Earth. One of the comments that was made once by the [Unclear] for cosmos at one of the Australian Space Science conferences we had a few years ago was that without planetary science in fact they would not even be talking of global warming on Earth. The reason people why started wondering about global warming on Earth was because of the observation of the planet Venus and the way the greenhouse effect on that planet. So that’s when people started querying whether the atmosphere of Earth would generate a similar phenomena on Earth and that’s when measurements of planet Earth’s concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere started in earnest.

Then we found out that the similar things are happening also on Earth. So it is important sometimes to look outside of the Earth to understand what happens to our planet as well. However, in recent years there has been some body of interpretation of the evidence that we observe in relation to other planets and to the solar system in general that has been brought back to deny the fact that humans have any contribution to the warming up of planet Earth. Essentially people have said we can observe warming in other bodies of the solar system, we know that the Sun itself is warming up and therefore this is the reason why we may be observing global warming on Earth. Now these arguments are fallacious and therefore today what I’m going to talk about is how we disentangle the myths from the facts when we observe this phenomena from other bodies, what they really mean, what causes them and what it means for us on Earth. So some of the arguments are listed here, the Sun is warming up therefore the entire solar system is warming up, therefore in this context we can expect also Earth to be warming up.

What of Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter these are faraway planets in the solar system, Earth’s global warming is due to the same process. So if these planets are also warming everything in the solar system is warming, clearly Earth will warm too. Another accepted argument argues that Mars at first and coupled with regard to that planet and so according to some modelling masses Mars is warming up therefore Earth is also warming up. Now this was under the Aristotelian Syllogism, all dogs have four legs, my cat has four legs therefore my cat is a dog. Naturally this cannot happen. So there is a fallacy in this syllogism which is called and known very well to mathematicians as an undistributed middle term fallacy. So obviously this is not right, we all know that this is not right. But this example is the kind of argument that is being employed by people who say everything is warming up therefore what is happening on Earth is related to those phenomena, there is nothing that humans are doing that in fact has any impact on global warming on Earth. Now let’s have a look at what’s really happening in the rest of the solar system.

So the first argument was about the Sun warming up. So this is a nice picture of the Sun which I used to show to my students on the subject of planetary [planetology] when I used to teach it in this university. It is true for a number of reasons that the Sun is hotter now than it was when it first formed 4.56 million years ago. But we also know the planets and globally the solar system have cooled down since then. If you think about earth 4.5 million years ago when it first formed, it was a hellish kind of planet. There was a lot of volcanic activity which was the way that the planet released its internal heat. So Earth since then has in fact cooled down and so have all the rest of the planets. So the fact that the Sun is getting a little bit warmer than it was when it first formed may cause some increase in the temperatures measured on the surfaces of planet but those temperatures are affected in reality by a number of other processes.

Not just the amount of the radiation, that is the amount of sunlight that hits the surface of those planets. Also consider that when we look at the difference between the Sun’s temperature when it first formed and what it is now, we are looking at scales of billions of years. Like I said, it is true that the Sun is hotter now than it was 4.5 billion years ago. But the warming that we observe on Earth and are measuring on Earth is in fact happening at the scale of tens to hundreds of years. So it is a very, very different time scale that we are looking at. Therefore already this human habitation is kind being the balance to some extent. Are there any processes that we observe at this scale at tens to hundreds of year scale in regards to the affinity of the Sun? Yes we observe sunspots, we observe some faculae. This is the fourth sphere which is essential in the visual part of the Sun, what we can actually see of the Sun. Sunspots are these dark areas, in fact they are not really spots they are very large areas, thousands and thousands of kilometres.

They are dark which indicates under there the material under them is colder than around them. Faculae are the exact opposite. Faculae are areas of extreme brightness and naturally we would be looking at something which is very bright, which is the Sun’s photo sphere something which is slightly bright that is very difficult to detect and look at. So as a matter of fact we have a much better record of the sunspots because they are clearly contrasted on the photosphere rather than the faculae. Sunspots have a cyclicity of 11 years. We know basically that as the Sun rotates the position of the sunspots rotates together with the surface and then therefore we observe the same sunspots after 11 years. In addition to that sunspots also reverse the polarity at every cycle. So essentially they return to the same position and the same polarity only every 22 years. So these are kind of cyclicities that are the scale of the phenomena that we could see in the warming of the Earth as well.

However, the measurements that we can make about the number of sunspots, the measurements that we can make about the energy released by the Sun that actually alights of Earth tells us that the activity of the sunspots basically produces no difference in terms of the amount of energy that actually reaches Earth. So you can have sunspots you can be in the middle of a cycle you can be at the peak of a cycle it makes no difference whatsoever. There are some the different types of interpretations of the activity of the sunspots, evidence which is based on other types of measurements other than counting the sunspots. But those are debated very, very strongly. There is an issue of the selective journal science in which people have taken the same measurement of particular geotechnical parameters in the Earth’s upper atmosphere as a satellite and observed them in exactly the opposite way. Both interpretations, and this is in the same journal, both interpretations are correct.

People spend most [unclear] ways in the ground knowledge which is correct. But really that means that this specific parameter is insufficient to tell us whether in fact the amount of energy reaching the Earth’s atmosphere from the Sun has changed because of the effect of sunspots. Essentially these are very difficult measurements and we need to measure a number of parameters not just one to get the real idea of what’s happening in terms of the radiance of the Sun relative to our planet. But as such we cannot conclusively state in any way that the Sun’s activity is in fact contributing to the warming of planet Earth. Let’s look at the second argument it was about the warming of Uranus, Pluto and Jupiter since these planets are warming therefore it’s not unthinkable that Earth should also warm and the reason would be perhaps the same.

Now with regards to the warming of these planets the time scales are more or less correct, tens to hundreds of years. Here we have a nice picture of Jupiter, this is Uranus and this is Pluto. So what I want to impress upon the audience tonight in regards to these images is how difficult it is to even realise that this is a planet here. This is the kind of data that astronomers have to work with. So when somebody says, okay that planet is so far away from us for example Pluto is warming up, how are we really going to determine that? I mean the range, the viability, the measurements that you are really making, a and of course in this case also consider nobody has ever gone there with a thermometer and stuck it in the ground and measured the temperature there. What we look at are proxies. We look at the amount of radiation that gets emitted from the surface of the planet.

We have to interpret that relative to the different wavelengths that we can observe with our telescopes from Earth. What in the best case scenario from the Hubble Space Telescope which is a few hundred kilometres from the Earth’s surface. So very, very far away from these bodies and so we can make, again based on the knowledge of physics, calculations of general temperatures that we can expect from the surface of these planets. But obviously these temperatures will never have the accuracy of the temperatures that can be measured on Earth from Earth’s materials. So basically what we have here in fact in regards to the warming of Uranus and Pluto specifically is yes we have observed changes in the brightness if you want you know seeing the reflected light coming from these planets and collected by our telescopes.

But you have to consider that in the context of the location of these planets now relative to their orbits. In other words the orbits of planets around the solar system as most of you certainly know is not circular, but it is elliptical. So every now and then the planets find themselves at a farther distance from the Sun and that’s called aphelion and at other times it will find itself at the closest distance from the Sun and that’s called the perihelion. So naturally the planet that is at perihelion, which is closer to the Sun it gets hotter. It’s summer that’s basically what it is. So Uranus has just moved into perihelion so it’s closer to the Sun now and it will stay there for several more years, tens of years in fact because these planets are very, very far from the Sun. So the revolution around the Sun plus hundreds of years can spend the planet indefinite years of perihelion it stays there for many, many years. Pluto has just passed perihelion so it’s still radiating back into space the heat that it accumulated while it was at perihelion.

That also is a very small process if you want to take many, many, many years. So that’s why Uranus and Pluto have warmed up. With regard to Jupiter, Jupiter which is here is like a mini star in reality. It’s interior is very, very crude, it’s very different from Earth but also linked here on Jupiter has a lot of plumes, in other words masses that ascend from the core towards the surface, all this in fact generates on the surface hot spots. So there are some areas of that that we can observe on the surface of Jupiter. Again remember no one has gone there with a thermometer and stuck it anywhere. It’s really all calculations. The modelling of the positions of these plumes, hot spots suggests that in some areas of Jupiter it is warmer than in other areas, but it doesn’t mean that the entire planet is warming up for whatever strange astronomical reason. It is a normal process of cooling of effective cooling of the entire planet which we also know on Earth as plate tectonics. Now let’s go to something which I am a little bit more familiar with, it’s the Mars-Earth climate coupling hypothesis.

Mars is warming up so also Earth warms up. I was actually asked that, in fact I undertook this little mini research in [Unclear] but one of my colleagues said there has been somebody publishing on the Australian journal, which is the newsletter of the Geological Society of Australia, saying that global warming of Earth is certainly not due to humans because there is recent evidence of global warming on the planet Mars which coincided with the temperature rise on Earth in the 20th century. So I was actually asked by my colleague whether there was any information about Mars warming up. So the truth of the matter is, even though I have been studying Mars now for close to 10, almost 15 years I couldn’t recall any place where there actually was anybody telling me Mars is warming up. So I said, okay that’s a discovery by someone of some sort. So in reading and thinking and reading I figured out what’s really happening here. Here I am citing two papers, they were both published in Nature, one by Sagan and Young, Nature 1973 and the other one by Fenton et al in Nature 2007.

Let’s start with the first one. This is the paper, Solar Neutrinos, Martian Rivers and Praesepe. So here we actually have to think about something totally different than just Mars. Sagan and Young, at the time, were actually concerned with the quantity of neutrinos that were being measured on Earth. Neutrinos for the most part come from the Sun. So what they observed is that with the instruments that we had at the time available, we had a number of neutrinos, a flux of neutrinos which was lower than what we would normally expect based on our knowledge of the Sun’s activity. So people were saying okay there is a deficiency in neutrinos, what does it mean. Does it relate to how the Sun functions? So Sagan and Young produced a kind of theory whereby there was a cyclicity in the expansion of the core of the Sun. This would correspond to the emission of different numbers of density, so neutrinos that we would then therefore detect from Earth and this would correlate with the luminosity, the brightness and the heat of the Sun.

Therefore they said, if the neutrino deficiency is caused by these processes then we should observe on the planet evidence that there were cold, warm cycles, cyclically probably related to this activity of the Sun. In order to corroborate this hypothesis they looked at the surface of Mars and observed of course Mars now is frozen. It’s a frozen desert but there is evidence that there was water running once upon a time on the surface. So it is possible, possible that in fact the lack of neutrinos coming from the Sun is an indication of the Sun’s cyclical activity whereby the Sun is sometimes hotter et cetera. So they were not interested in Mars per se, they were just trying to justify or produce some kind of working evidence the fact that we were not counting as many neutrinos as we should. Pass a couple of years in 1975 a new flavour of neutrino is discovered.

Not only that but it’s also discovered that neutrinos’ flavours, which come necessarily in three flavours actually can change. Each neutrino can sometimes be a tau neutrino, sometimes an electro-neutrino et cetera. So when taking into account all of the different types of neutrinos your balance of neutrinos is exactly what it has to be. There were no real deficiencies. This naturally was unknown by Sagan and Young at the time, but it became known later on. The fact is though some people continue citing this paper as evidence of the fact that Mars was once warmer, which was, but not because of solar activity. That for also the fact that we have observed the glacial periods on Earth as well as one period that means the coupling of the Mars versus system as a global climatic system.

Now that therefore has been taken back by other people to say, okay since the discovery of systems between Mars and Mars and Earth then since we have evidence that the surface of Mars is warming up, that’s why this is also happening on Earth. Let alone what the reasons of this hypothetic coupling could be, it’s there; Mars is warming up so Earth is also warming up. Now how do we know that the planet of Mars was different once upon a time? This comes up in my research as well, this is actually a paper which we had in [Unclear] with one of my former honours’ students, a colleague that I miss. This is, I hope you can see it, it is a valley, one of the valleys that we observed on the ancient surface of Mars. It’s called the [Iberus Vallis]. We have demonstrated in fact that this valley was carved by water. There are other similar looking valleys and you have to make studies of very much details into the unique features that you can observe from the imagery to actually say, yes water was actually flowing there.

Because in some cases exactly similar looking valleys could be interpreted as due to volcanic origin like the reels on the Moon for example. So it is not very easy as a matter of fact to look at the surface of Mars, at any day and be 100 per cent certain that what you are looking at is a river or something that has to do with a lake. But in this particular case we collected enough evidence to support an interpretation that there was water flowing in this valley. So clearly this must indicate at some point in time that there was the possibility of having drinking water on the surface of Mars therefore Mars must have been warmer. But remember, again, it’s always difficult to interpret something just by looking at it. You cannot just use analogy of form to say therefore the process that created that form is this. Because the processes can converge different thought processes can in fact converge to a similar [thought]. This is one very well-known example of the famous face on Mars when we in fact started collecting data at much higher resolution we know very well that these are mounds and this one is [Unclear] which is also similar to one of the features that Emily had in her honours thesis.

So there are no faces on Mars. But just to give you an idea of how many people in fact and how effective it can also be to try and interpret the processes which have occurred on the surface of a planet just by looking at forms on the planet. Another example which is related to climate is this one in Cereberus Plains, [unclear]. So we observe this kind of surface here, this is actually the highest resolution stellar camera image and you can see plates surrounded by this other material, slightly lighter. Now according to these authors Murray et al, this is basically pack ice, not dissimilar from what you observe in Antarctica on Earth. So you have similar looking features from above. The problem is firstly, how you justify pack ice on the surface of Mars and particularly in a plain which is completely volcanic in origin. Also the fact that if you look at those same features, like [Unclear] did, always [unclear] exactly the same area they preferred them as in fact being platy surfaces, which are very simply explained by the fact that when you have very fluid lava flowing on the surface of a planet like you would have in Hawaii for example, that immediately the surface of the lava tends to solidify into a crust.

Then underneath you have very fast flowing lava, the crust on the top tends to break, the pieces of crust collide with each other. In fact after a few years when much higher resolution data was collected, [Unclear] could confirm that interpretation that that platy surface was in fact just the crust of a very fast flowing, just the crust of very fast flowing lava. Here for example you can see these ridges that can be interpreted as crust, pieces of crust banging against each other and naturally creating ridges as the lava flows underneath. Another example always in relation to the features that we can observe in regards to climate on Mars are a feature which has taken exactly in this position here. This is a very high resolution picture, here the scale of 100 metres. You can see this type of terrain is called the polygonal terrain.

How do we know that polygonal terrain are generated by similar contractions? So essentially you get a hotter wet period on Mars in which you have lots of small ice blasts generating among the covering. A ground which is filled also with ice, which is absorbed from the surface. Then, however when you get the cold period everything still remains and there is this contraction of these layers here and they form the cap polygons. So obviously there are hot, cold periods on Mars. They are well documented, no one is disputing but at [Unclear]. Essentially the reason why you have hot, cold periods on Mars is because of the [Unclear] of the location axis of Mars actually changes periodically. So essentially the location axis of Earth’s mineral has an [Unclear] of 23 point something degrees. On Mars right now it is more or less the same, but it doesn’t stay the same. It actually oscillates quite substantially. Over a period of ten million years you can see that you have this broad oscillation, in which for about five million years the [obliquity] is relatively high. In this particular case this is when you had warm Mars and for the subsequent five million years the obliquity is very low and that’s when you have cold Mars.

So these are millions of years in terms of scale. Our methods of dating for the surface of Mars which will not allow us to actually in fact resolve episodes at that scale of millions of years. When we talk about dating the surface of Mars and we use [unclear] data methods like the ones that [Unclear] student have been working on we don’t have that accuracy of a few million years. So when we talk about some processes of ice ages on Mars corresponding to ice ages of Earth well not really. The time scales again are different and on Mars we don’t have the necessary resolution to say that they occurred at the same time as they occurred on Earth. Let’s go to the last point about Mars warming, which was by Fenton et al the Nature paper in 2007. They actually suggested that the surface air has an increment [unclear] of 0.

65 K. Did they measure it, again as you by now know, certainly not with a thermometer. What they did they had to model. So all this is as a result of a number of computer calculations, in which the authors of this paper took some parameters, that are easily measured, use them as proxies and then entered those parameters in the computer, ran a number of simulations and then came up with the fact that if this happens, then the temperature increases by as much. So what did they actually use – albedo. Albedo is a very well-known characteristic of the surface of Mars. Essentially it’s the amount of energy that gets reflected back into space from the planet. So it’s always been very well known that albedos change on Mars. There are plenty of historical data and historical records that show us very well that albedo on Mars changes. It changes at tens of years scale. Essentially why does it? Because there is weather from Mars.

We cannot really talk about the climate in the same way that would talk about it for Earth. But there is weather on Mars. That means there are very strong winds. The dust on Mars gets recycled and moved from one place to the other on a regular basis. Mars is very dry so it has a very high albedo. Therefore when it gets really [unclear] there the albedo patterns on the surface of Mars change. So these authors here used a mass model Surveyor map of Mars that is based here on the raw data, the [mission] data and this overlaying the valleys of [Unclear] as measured by another of some Mars Global Surveyor which is this. So this is basically the albedo that we would have been observing at the time that the Mars Global Surveyor mission was active that was two or three years ago. Then they overlaid this albedo map to the one that was collected 30 years before by the Viking mission.

Here the bottom figure here shows the difference in the balance of albedos on the polarscape. So essentially where you have the yellow regions that’s where the difference is in albedo between the earlier and later measurements that are higher. When you have the bluer scale that is where the difference in albedo between the earlier and later measurements are lower. So obviously there has been a change in albedo in several positions on the surface of Mars. How is it translated when we take that information from Fenton et al’s models? It does of course change in the surface air temperature simply because if you change the locations of reflecting surfaces that must have an effect on the very thin Martian atmosphere. In fact you have this kind of iso curves here which indicate to you by how much the surface temperatures have changed. For example in the areas of albedo which you have here represented by the [unclear] you have increases of temperature up to 2, for example in these other areas you may have even decreases of temperature up to minus 0.

5. This is all coming out from the models calculated by computer. That in addition to that actually causes also stronger winds. So because the albedo patterns change because of the directions and the strengths of the winds, if you change the temperatures a distribution on the planet also the wind strength will increase in some areas, decrease in other areas, which by itself will also cause further rearrangement of the dust from the surface. Which in itself will also contribute to differences in albedo, which in itself will also contribute again to differences in temperature of the surface, which again will cause a stronger wind stress. So in the positive feedback loop the [self-reinforcing] mechanism and if you let it move as many cycles you eventually reach a situation where it will calculate that the surface air temperature must increase because of these process by about .0.65 [unclear].

So essentially like I said many times before, no one has actually measured this temperature it’s all calculation. In fact Fenton et al are looking for much better detailed data. Remember that one of the set of data that they used to determine the difference in albedo was based on the Viking dataset which is about 30 years old now. Now we have much better instrumentation which is collecting albedo data at much higher resolution and Fenton et al will actually redo their calculations. So it’s not the end of it they might very well come with a different number at the end of their calculations. We conclude therefore, what I’d like to stress lastly and I hope that it was clear throughout, it is wrong to use evidence of warming or cooling of other planetary objects in the solar system to parallel global changes on Earth. Because first of all the measurements are difficult, remember that.

You are looking at Pluto, it’s basically one big circle in an image. Imagine how well you can determine a temperature from one pizza. Causes of warming are clearly different, Sun interference Pluto you have wind stress on Mars, so one must avoid the undistributed middle term fallacy. Many kinds of temperature increase on other bodies like Jupiter and Mars in fact are not real temperature measurements, are just models. Finally it is not logical to accept the results of modelled temperatures from faraway objects and at the same time refute the results of the same models for Earth for which you have many, many, many more detailed measurements. Thank you so much. [Applause] Emily Bathgate: Hi everyone my name is Emily Bathgate and I just won the VSSEC Master Australian Space prize. This was judged through sending in my honours thesis and then they judged those and we got category winners. Then each category winner got to apply to NASA and then the NASA Academy chose one of us to then join NASA for a 10 week intensive program. I got to join the NASA Ames Academy, which is at the Ames Research Center in California.

So okay a brief outline, I’ll introduce the Academy, I’ll go through my individual research project and then my group project. Then I’ll briefly introduce the VSSEC Australian Space prize which they’re running again this year. So what is the Academy? The goal of the Academy is to provide a unique Summer institute of higher learning whose goal is to help guide future leaders of the US Space Program by giving them a glimpse of how the whole system works. So they did this by sending us to speeches, by letting us meet people who work at NASA. Meet, we got to meet the Administrator at NASA and the Deputy Administrator. The NASA Ames Academy of Space Exploration is a 10 week intensive internship at the NASA Ames Research Center, full tours, presentations and the team building which is one of the major components that we did.

Here you can see we had 11 American students and here you can see we saw one of the Apollo rockets. We had our family weekend where my Dad came and joined me that was real nice. We got to tour the wind tunnels. Here was our group, we spent nearly every waking moment together so we could – became a little bit of a family, went on a tour that night. So our students, we had 11 American students, 1 Dutch student from the European Space Agency, 1 French student from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiale – I can’t say it properly I always got into trouble from him and 1 Australian student, me from the Victorian Space Science Education Centre. This was us here at Doug O’Handley’s house, he’s the Emeritus Director of the Academy. Every week he holds barbecues and everything we all go out, a real family.

So it was an amazing experience. We did our individual and group research programs. As I said guest speakers, team building, tours, trips. One of the great things about this was you put 14, really, really intelligent people into a room and you see what they come up with. That was one of the things that our group research project which I’ll introduce later. So here are some images of the tours we did at Ames. We went through the helicopter hangars, this is one of the Black Hawk helicopters we would see doing drills every day. Here we did a tour of [unclear] Moon, which is actually an old McDonald’s building on the [unclear] campus. They are looking at all of the really old Apollo reels and they’re going through all of them, which were just shoved in a room somewhere. Stored, no one had really gone through them since Apollo and a couple at Ames found one of the old readers. Then thought well this is a good idea, we’ll go through them all.

So they are going through all of the old reels, digitising them, improving the images and some of the images they are coming up with are just amazing. In here we did our tour of LA, typical going through Hollywood. We then went to JPL and saw some of the Blackbirds being [unclear]. We went to Griffith Observatory, we also went to see Scaled Composites which is the people who are building the Virgin Galactic spaceships, which was absolutely amazing. We got to speak with them. Unfortunately due to ISAF restrictions, internationals weren’t allowed to go see the spaceships. But I got to see one of the mock ups called SpaceShip One, which was the one that won the Google Space prize; do you know about that one? This was us here at Lick Observatory in California and we got to see Discovery and Atlantis when we went to tour the Space Center. We also got to see the launch of Juno, which was absolutely amazing, the new Juno spacecraft which is going up to Jupiter.

We also went to the Yosemite National Park where we did a [unclear] which was a really good team building experience. Even the [Unclear] guide for Ames came with us and he said we were the best group. You know we were the only group that wasn’t fighting that wasn’t trying to kick each other off the trail, we were all trying to help each other. So he thought that was quite good. So we had lots of presentations. We had lots of presentations, we heard from Brian Day we heard about the importance of education outreach. We also integrated this into our degrees in individual projects. We also heard from Chris McKay about the future of the Space Program. He worked in the same building as me which was quite entertaining. An interesting guy who’s very, very smart and knows a lot about Mars which is really just the kind of other point I want to talk about Mars. We also heard from Richard Russo talking about Laser Plasma Spectrochemistry. Garth Illingworth talking about ancient galaxies, so looking at the really low formation of the cosmos. David Morrison talking about near Earth asteroids telling us how important it is to not get over excited about these asteroids the media is telling us about.

They’re not really that close, even if they are. Waleed Abdalati talking about the direction of NASA. He was one of the most inspirational speakers we heard from. This was us meeting with Charles Bolden who’s the Administrator for NASA. This was an amazing opportunity to meet the team and to also meet Roy Maizel who’s the Deputy Administrator. So being able to meet those people and talk to them about the importance of the Academy, especially with the recent budget cuts. Trying to tell them that keeping the Academy really is a good opportunity. Okay so an introduction to my individual research project, I was looking at the mineralogy of Mars and all of the sites near the Mars Research Station in Utah. So we took, well my research group took soil, rock and core samples in specific sites in close proximity to the Mars Research Station, which is in an area that is a Mars [Unclear] environment.

So it’s got a very dry climate, good depositional history which then we can look through and understand what processes occurred in this area. So these samples we then analysed to obtain data on the mineralogical composition and the organic carbon. So I was focusing on the mineralogy and the mineralogy of the rock was determined using the commercial version of the X-ray diffraction device that is installed on the new Mars Rover Science Laboratory called Curiosity, which is launching on 25 November, hopefully. It’s [Unclear] launch window is 10.25am standard time on 25, but you never know it’s going to actually take off on that day. But it is a really interesting machine. It is as big as a small car and basically has a whole suite of instruments designed to determine rock structure and composition to determine the evolutional history of Mars and find out all that we wanted to know really. If you’re interested further in instruments, just go to [unclear] at JPL.

The instrument we were looking at was the Chemistry and Mineralogy or CheMin , which is an X-ray diffraction device. We use a commercial version of that to complete our research. So the final goals were to compare the mineralogy which I have determined along with organic carbon morphology and depositional environment. Then this data will be important in establishing a baseline database to assist in sample site selection and analyse the results, return to Earth five months [unclear]. Now the most interesting part of this was our group project. So about a month before we went out we were told by the Academy administration, okay you guys need to start talking about your group project. All of us just sat there going, what? You know they gave us a $1,000 budget and said off you go. We didn’t actually work out what we were going to do until the night before we had to do a presentation.

[Laughter] We were fighting over what project to do and in the end we chose do our Castle Fort project. So we were in a biology team which was Castle, they split our group into two. We had Castle which was Create Applications for SynBio Technology for Long Term Exploration. Then our engineering team which was Fort, which was Fort, FOrmed, Regolith, Technology. You will see a lot, a lot of acronyms but that’s the way they work. If you don’t like acronyms, just steer away. So colonisation, so our first colonisations was continents and islands, We’ve pretty much been stagnant ever since then. So where’s our next step? So the next, we would like to go to the Moon and Mars. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t think that that would be a nice dream to think of. But if we want to go to the Moon or to Mars there really is no available oxygen.

There’s no liquid water, there’s no food and it’s a very inhospitable environment. So we’re going to need to build so for this we’re going to need to set up a whole establishment. So we’re going to need habitat, we’re going to need to utilise resources that are on the planet, because you can’t launch all this stuff that it will be too expensive, too much resources no one will be doing it. So we want to try and utilise, institute resource utilisation, using the resources on the planet and we want to try and incorporate some synthetic bio [unclear] into this. So our science team overview, I was part of the science team. We were using Sporosarcina pastureii bacteria to produce bio cement. Sporosarcina pastureii uses Microbial-Induced Calcite Precipitation so that occurs when Sporosarcina pastureii is in a solution with calcite [unclear] So you have the bacteria here, we have the regulus or sand or materials that you want to mix with it.

You get H20, calcium chloride, growth media and then hopefully you get a brick. So fundamental reactions, we have our two components here, the association and then we get what we want. So we want calcite. It did work, so here we have the [little image of] the Sporosarcina pastureii and calcite is forming. So our bio concrete ejected we combined the bacteria with lunar and Martian regulus so the sand the dirt that we can get and then try and create bio-concrete. So we were mixing these in and trying to find the best ratio of these bacteria with the growth media with the regulo to get the strongest brick. So we wanted to determine how much calcite is needed to produce the hard brick. We needed to quantify how much Sporosarcina pastureii you needed to produce this amount of calcite and then experimented with the different ratios. So far we haven’t managed to find a brick that doesn’t crumble when we try to pull it out.

But we are working on that and that’s a really good thing. We’re still working on this. A couple are still at Ames and are still working on it. We’re all still doing research together even though we’re all over the world now. So the engineering team they were developing construction techniques, the habitat on the Moon and Mars. So they were looking at lightweight inflatable structures with cement. So you have an inflatable bladder which they’re looking at. Then you pour the cement in here and then pylons and you get your own habitat. So their goal is goals were to test the mechanical properties of each concrete and bio cement samples. Test the concrete and bio-cement curing in low pressure environments. We found that low pressure environments up to here really do affect the concrete so we really do need to work on that and try and find a way around that. We found that low pressure environments, the concrete was so fragile that the pressure tests just didn’t take us any further because they just broke.

Then they developed a mission concept. So their mission concept design was that we would have within a in a regulo period we would build this on the Moon. We’d then have our inflatable bladder with our cells and all of our regulo cement being poured in here. We’d have our bio reactor which is where we have our Sporosarcina pastureii we’d grow it, we’d culture it and hope to then re-mutalise the water. So you have to mix water with the cement, you want to be able to reclaim that water as the cement cures. We did do math analysis with this and we found that the amount of water you actually reclaim would be negligible. If we did build this we’d need to have mining situations for water, so this wouldn’t help. Then they’re looking at construction methods. So our conclusions Castle, we analysed the viability of the biological methods for in-space construction. We then did multiple experiments. Fort did their mechanical testing and developed mission concepts.

We’re still doing more work which for the low technological readiness will require further maturation. So we really do need to do more research and look at more in-depth testing for these. So the research [unclear] was an absolutely amazing opportunity to be able to work with so many different people from so many different backgrounds. We had biologists we had engineers we had chemists, we had mechanical engineers we had electrical engineers. Putting all that in together was crazy, but good at the same time So, yes, thank you..

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