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Scientists Create Martian Atmosphere on Earth Using Test Chamber 'MARTE'

Mar 26, 2014 10:24 AM EDT
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Researchers in Spain have re-created Martian surface on Earth. Their Mars environmental simulation chamber, complete with Martian dust, is constructed to test electromagnetic gear on land before sending it to the Red Planet.

The new version of Mars on earth is called "MARTE" or nicknamed as Mars in a Bottle, according to American Live Wire.

Mars exploration has garnered lots of interest in the recent parts due to several scientists saying that the planet could have once supported life.

MARTE will allow scientists to see how pressure, temperature and even Martian dust will affect sensitive sensors.

The chamber was developed by scientists at the Centro de Astrobiología, INTA-CSIC, and Instituto de Ciencias de Materials de Madrid.

"Mars is a good place to learn about planets similar to ours and, as such, is the target of many NASA and European Space Agency missions," explained Jose Angel Martín-Gago, a research professor at the Instituto de Ciencias de Materials de Madrid according to a news release. "Our group is primarily involved in the Mars Science Laboratory mission to construct a meteorological station intended for future use on a rover to further explore Mars' surface."

Scientists use test chambers to expose equipment to a variety of conditions such as heat, cold and radiation, according to Popular Mechanics. MARTE will allow engineers to test any threat that the equipment could encounter on the Red Planet.

The eight-square-inch copper platform can re-create varying degrees of pressure (up to 10-6 mbar)  and temperatures - from negative 265 degrees Fahrenheit to 301 degrees Fahrenheit- to even customized gas blends, according to American Live Wire

The test chamber will also throw in iron oxide particles to mimic conditions on Mars, Popular Mechanics reported.

"We're simulating the effect of the Martian dust -- one of the primary problems for planetary exploration -- to gain a better understanding of how instruments behave when covered in dust," said Jesus Sobrado, the scientist in charge of the machine's technical development, according to a news release.

The study is published in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

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