MPSL researches and simulates the physico-chemical processes occurring on the planetary surface and subsoil from a reactor inside the MARTE simulation chamber.

MPSL (Mimicking Planetary Subsoil in the Laboratory) is a project of the 2020 State R&D&I Plan (Programa Estatal de Generación de Conocimiento y Fortalecimiento Científico y Tecnológico del Sistema de I+D+i).

This is a physics project managed by INTA: PID2020-114047GB-100

Period: 09/01/2021 – 08/31/2024

Principal investigator: Jesús Manuel Sobrado Vallecillo


The main objective is the design and construction of a vacuum “bio-geo” reactor that simulates the natural interaction between ice, water and vapor that occurs in the subsoil of telluric moons and planets of our solar system. The reactor is the appropriate experimental device to be able to recreate in the laboratory the most probable place where the emergence and habitability of organic samples in the solar system is possible outside of our planet The Earth.

The subsoil will be simulated, in which the interface with the atmosphere will be a layer of water ice and / or carbon dioxide. Inside there will be a combination of brines of different concentrations and / or silicates with a fraction of water and gases. This experimental device will be in a vacuum simulation environment in the MARTE vacuum chamber of the Astrobiology Center.

In the reactor, we will have the most appropriate analytical tools as the quadrupole mass spectrometer for measurements in a gaseous medium, and the RAMAN spectrometer for measurements in aqueous media. We will also have radiation sources (UV, VIS, IR) that simulate as many events as possible to help us understand chemistry on the surface and inside the reactor.

The advances achieved in the project will open up a new line of exploration in biosensors that will be necessary for space missions, with the aim of finding possible traces of life in the Martian subsoil.

Keywords: Mars, Vacuum, Simulation, Subsoil, Water, Ice, Europa.

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