MARS Analog Drilling Demonstration

A crew consisting of biologists, geologists and engineers from America, Australia, Peru, England, and Portugal deployed to a simulated Mars surface habitat in southern Utah to perform a simulation of a human mission to Mars to look for life using state of the art drilling technology to acquire unaltered subsurface samples. The team, led by Dr. Carol Stoker (Code SST), used the MARTE drill, a prototype of a Mars drill capable of 10-m depth continuous core samples. Drilling was accomplished into sandstone rock that was identified based on geological fieldwork as a fossil soil containing root casts and insect burrows created 150 million years ago. The MARTE drill acquired 63 cm of core with 90% recovery. The core recovered was immediately transported to a Mars-like Habitat, where a field research team analyzed samples in the Habitat/ laboratory for mineralogy using a Terra x-ray diffraction instrument. The instrument is a prototype of an Ames instrument that will fly to Mars later this year on the Mars Science Laboratory mission.