In-situ Optimized Substrate Witness Plates: Ground Truth For Key Processes On The Moon And Other Planets

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
August 29, 2023
Filed under , , ,
In-situ Optimized Substrate Witness Plates: Ground Truth For Key Processes On The Moon And Other Planets
A depiction of the potential usage and some target processes relevant to a Biscuit (energetic particle flux, water transport, illumination and micrometeorite flux are shown here as examples). The Biscuit cartoon design shown here is meant to illustrate that these tools can be used to track different processes at a number of locations. The retrieval of a Biscuit by an astronaut and the ability to place them near both a rover or habitation module illustrates that biscuits can be placed and retrieved by multiple methods and can track both scientifically and operationally relevant processes. — astro-ph.IM

Future exploration efforts of the Moon, Mars and other bodies are poised to focus heavily on persistent and sustainable survey and research efforts, especially given the recent interest in a long-term sustainable human presence at the Moon. Key to these efforts is understanding a number of important processes on the lunar surface for both scientific and operational purposes.

We discuss the potential value of in-situ artificial substrate witness plates, powerful tools that can supplement familiar remote sensing and sample acquisition techniques and provide a sustainable way of monitoring processes in key locations on planetary surfaces while maintaining a low environmental footprint. These tools, which we call Biscuits, can use customized materials as wide ranging as zircon-based spray coatings to metals potentially usable for surface structures, to target specific processes/questions as part of a small, passive witness plate that can be flexibly placed with respect to location and total time duration.

We examine and discuss unique case studies to show how processes such as water presence/transport, presence and contamination of biologically relevant molecules, solar activity related effects, and other processes can be measured using Biscuits. Biscuits can yield key location sensitive, time integrated measurements on these processes to inform scientific understanding of the Moon and enable operational goals in lunar exploration. While we specifically demonstrate this on a simulated traverse and for selected examples, we stress all groups interested in planetary surfaces should consider these adaptable, low footprint and highly informative tools for future exploration.

Prabal Saxena, Liam S. Morrissey, Rosemary M. Killen, Jason L. McLain, Li Hsia Yeo, Natalie M. Curran, Nithin S. Abraham, Heather V. Graham, Orenthal J. Tucker, Menelaos Sarantos, Aaron B. Regberg, Diane E. Pugel, Andrew W. Needham, Mark Hasegawa, Alfred J. Wong

Comments: Accepted to Earth and Space Science, Will be updated upon publication
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2308.14766 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2308.14766v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Prabal Saxena
[v1] Sun, 27 Aug 2023 19:51:16 UTC (9,500 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) 🖖🏻