New technological challenges have been posed by future space missions such as Mars Science Laboratory, to study the climatic conditions of those planets that are worthy candidates for astrobiological study. The importance of studying the possibility of the existence of some form of life in planetary exploration has given a new impetus to the study of those climatic variables.

Knowledge of the climate and in-situ study on those planets gives accurate information of the value range of the main meteorological variables: pressure and its temporal evolution, ground temperature, air temperature, wind speed and direction, sun radiation.

With this information and additional scientific studies it can be studied the feasibility of life subsistence and the possibility of sending manned missions to those planets.

The experience shows the need for testing flight sensors in environments as close as possible as to what they will find in the future on the surface of those planets. The need to develop such an ambitious camera that covers such a broad spectrum of applications has forced us to use both our engineering expertise and our imagination.

Technical description:

Our vacuum chamber consists of two sub-chambers: Main Chamber or Atmospheric Chamber (CA) and the Secondary Chamber or Dust Chamber (CP). In order to attain our goals, we designed specifically a sample holder , the temperature sensor and the generator of dust. .

The simulation chamber is versatile for different experiments that allow the calibration of new electronic devices.

The variables that must be controlled are the following:

  • Indepent control of subchambers total pressure.
  • Partial gas pressure (gas composition, including relative humidity)
  • Environmental and Local Temperature.
  • Wind.
  • Mars dust.
  • Ultraviolet radiation.
  • Solar Radiation (on the visible range to take pictures with different origins of solar rays).

Restrictions on the vacuum chamber are given by the environmental conditions on Mars.

  • Gas composition: The composition is essentially: carbon dioxide (95.3%) with 2.7% nitrogen, 1.6% argon and traces of oxygen (0.15%) carbon monoxide (0.07% ) and water vapor (0.03%)
  • Total pressure: 1 to 7mbar
  • Temperature: From 150 ° K to 280 K (the temperature at the surface depends on the latitude and shows seasonal variations. The average surface temperature is about 218 K (-55 ° C). The diurnal variation in temperature is very high, as befits an atmosphere as tenuous. The daytime maximum in the equator in summer can reach 290 ºK or more, while the evening peak can easily reach 200 ° K. In the polar caps, winter temperatures can drop to 140 °K.)
  • Martian dust, particles of iron and other metals, composition of Martian Analogues.
  • Simulation of wind storms.

Simulation Chamber

MARS Simulation Chamber.

UV REMS sensor tests

Dust raining inside simulation chambers

Dust over REMS UVS