National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Space Science Division
Moffett Field, California
Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Lake Joyce / University Valley
This project is funded by NASA ASTEP (Astrobiology Science & Technology for Exploring Planets). Researchers will develop an ice auger and sampling bit for sampling subsurface ice-cemented ground on Mars. Ice on Mars is an important target for astrobiology because ice-rich locations could have been sites of liquid water activity during periods of high obliquity and because ice may preserve organics. The IceBite drill will penetrate several meters into the ground ice to collect deeper, older ice and search for signs of organics and life. Dry permafrost in the McMurdo Dry Valleys offers Mars-like conditions in which to test the auger and sampling system. Researchers will also investigate the physics and microbiology of the samples they recover as an analog for Mars. The IceBite team includes experts from the Honeybee Robotics, McGill University, and the Canadian Space Agency.
Field Season Overview:
This is the final field season of for this project. Seven participants will first set up the drill in McMurdo to test the remote operations. The drill will then be moved to a site in the lower Taylor Valley while part of the team is in University Valley and nearby areas getting cores. After testing is complete in the lower valleys, that part of the team will join their colleagues at University Valley to demonstrate remote operations using an Iridium phone time-delay link.
Deploying Team Members:
Margarita Marinova (Team Leader)
Christopher McKay (PI)