Astrochemistry Lab Hosts a Yuri’s Night booth

Astrochem Lab Rover
Astrochem Lab Rover

The Astrochemistry Laboratory hosted an informative, hands-on, booth for both the Multiverse Education Day and the Festival Day at the annual NASA Ames Yuri’s Night Event, April 9th & 10th 2010. Astrochemistry volunteers (Christiaan Boersma, Claire Ricketts, Emma Yates, Joe Roser, Nathan Bramall, Cesar Contreras, Amanda Cook, Andrew Mattioda, Scott Sandford, Michel Nuevo, Katie Bryson and Yvonne Ibarra) demonstrated several instrument concepts under development in the laboratory for Astrobiology missions. These concepts focus on Ultra-Violet (UV) induced fluorescence in astrobiologically interesting molecules, allowing them to be easily identified on either a planet’s surface or in subsurface soils. After a short demonstration on fluorescence, visitors to the booth used a remote controlled rover, equipped with a UV source and wireless camera, to move across a Mars landscape identifying signs of alien life. The visitor’s were also given a peak below the surface of Mars via a UV fluorescence penetrometer system. Penetrometers are direct push instruments that allow scientific exploration of subsurface soils. Both instrument concepts proved to be extremely popular with the public, with most people waiting in line to see the rover move across the Martian landscape or to gain a glimpse of the possible life below the Martian surface.