Scientists from around the world are gathering in a deep mine, a kilometer under the surface of the Earth, to conduct experiments that will lead to new technologies for future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Deep within the Earth, the levels of radiation are lower than the surface, which is an ideal environment to conduct sensitive experiments. The researchers are taking part in the Mine Analogue Research (MINAR) event, in the Cleveland Potash Boulby Mine located in north east England. The site is an ideal location to study the challenges of exploring other planetary bodies.
Professor Charles Cockell, Head of the UK Centre for Astrobiology says, "The next two weeks provide a wonderful opportunity for scientists from many different parts of the world to come together to work in the mine and laboratories underground. We also want to use it as an opportunity to give as many people as possible an understanding of the challenges of planetary exploration and the technologies being developed."
Researchers from across Europe, scientists from the University of Edinburgh, NASA, the SETI institute, an astronaut from ESA and Indian scientists from the Kalam Centre will participate in the study. A wide range of equipment will be tested during the event, including new methods to study microbial life. The technology developments from the event will be shared with planetary scientists around the world. There are two live streams planned directly from the underground lab, on 16 October and 18 October.