Icy Worlds

Enabling Ice Core Science On Mars And Ocean Worlds

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
January 6, 2023
Filed under , , , , , , ,
Enabling Ice Core Science On Mars And Ocean Worlds
Melter-Sublimator for Ice Science (MSIS) Overview. (A) CAD model. (B) Cross-sectional view illustrating both melting and sublimation modes of operation. — astro-ph.EP

Ice deposits on Earth provide an extended record of volcanism, planetary climate, and life.

On Mars, such a record may extend as far back as tens to hundreds of millions of years (My), compared to only a few My on Earth.

Here, we propose and demonstrate a compact instrument, the Melter-Sublimator for Ice Science (MSIS), and describe its potential use cases. Similar to current use in the analysis of ice cores, linking MSIS to downstream elemental, chemical, and biological analyses could address whether Mars is, or was in the recent past, volcanically active, enable the creation of a detailed climate history of the late Amazonian, and seek evidence of subsurface life preserved in ice sheets.

The sublimation feature can not only serve as a preconcentrator for in-situ analyses, but also enable the collection of rare material such as cosmogenic nuclides, which could be returned to Earth and used to confirm and expand the record of nearby supernovas and long-term trends in space weather.

Missions to Ocean Worlds such as Europa or Enceladus will involve ice processing, and there MSIS would deliver liquid samples for downstream wet chemistry analyses.

Our combined melter-sublimator system can thus help to address diverse questions in heliophysics, habitability, and astrobiology.

Alexander G. Chipps, Cassius B. Tunis, Nathan Chellman, Joseph R. McConnell, Bruce Hammer, Christopher E. Carr

Comments: 10 pages, 5 figures
Subjects: Instrumentation and Detectors (physics.ins-det); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Geophysics (physics.geo-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2301.01869 [physics.ins-det] (or arXiv:2301.01869v1 [physics.ins-det] for this version)
Focus to learn more
Submission history
From: Alexander Chipps
[v1] Thu, 5 Jan 2023 01:44:09 UTC (5,473 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻