Deep-underground planetary sciences campaign finishes

The UK Centre for Astrobiology (UKCA) has concluded its fourth MINAR campaign in the 1.1 km-deep Boulby Mine.

MINAR (Mine Analogue Research), is a programme that was set up by UKCA to test planetary science instrumentation and technology for space missions that might also have technology transfer potential for the mining industry. This year the fourth MINAR campaign focused on addressing the science question of whether ancient biosignatures of life could be detected in the 250-million-year-old Permian salt in which the Boulby mine operates.

Groups from the Spanish Centre for Astrobiology, NASA, The European Science Foundation, the University of Madrid and the University of Leicester joined the campaign which ran for three days. Work included drilling for ancient salts and testing an immunoassay instrument (SOLID) developed by the Spanish Centre for Astrobiology for searching for organics on Mars, as well as new commercially available microscopy methods.

UK Centre for Astrobiology

UKCA's mission is to advance knowledge of molecules and life in extreme environments on the Earth and beyond to further our understanding of planetary habitability. It does this with a combination of theoretical, laboratory, field and mission approaches. We apply this knowledge to improving the quality of life on Earth and developing space exploration as two mutually enhancing objectives. The UK Centre for Astrobiology is based at the University of Edinburgh and is affiliated to the NASA Astrobiology Institute.