Planetary simulation and hypervelocity impact at the Open University

Rolfe, S. M.; Patel, M. R.; Ringrose, T. J. and Leese, M. R. (2011). Planetary simulation and hypervelocity impact at the Open University. In: Exploring Mars Habitability, 13-15 Jun 2011, Lisbon, Portugal.



Topic: Simulated environmental conditions and processes used to study possible extant or extinct life and habitats on Mars and other solar system environments.

The Open University hosts a wide range of facilities capable of simulating a range of environments and processes of interest within the solar system. Here we present the range of facilities available for martian, other planetary and solar system simulation. These cover two broad areas; environmental simulation and impact simulation. Specialist environmental chambers have been commissioned in order to simulate a range of solar system environments, providing combined simulation of pressure, temperature and solar illumination. Using these parameters the surface of Mars, environments in space, and airless/icy bodies in the solar system (among others) are simulated. Hypervelocity impacts are simulated using a two stage light gas gun, and a Van de Graaff particle accelerator.

These facilities provide an extensive capability in simulating environments and processes of great scientific interest within the solar system, and are designed in such a way as to be available for both pure research and instrument testing purposes for the wider community in a collaborative manner. Here we present the full capabilities of the various facilities, and initial results from experiments.

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