Skip to main content Accessibility help

Field astrobiology research in Moon–Mars analogue environments: instruments and methods

  • B.H. Foing (a1) (a2) (a3), C. Stoker (a4), J. Zavaleta (a4), P. Ehrenfreund (a5) (a6), C. Thiel (a3) (a7), P. Sarrazin (a8), D. Blake (a4), J. Page (a1), V. Pletser (a1), J. Hendrikse (a1), S. Direito (a2), J.M. Kotler (a5), Z. Martins (a9), G. Orzechowska (a10), C. Gross (a11), L. Wendt (a11), J. Clarke (a12) (a13), A.M. Borst (a2) (a3), S.T.M. Peters (a2), M.-B. Wilhelm (a4), G.R. Davies (a2) and ILEWG EuroGeoMars 2009 Team...


We describe the field demonstration of astrobiology instruments and research methods conducted in and from the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah during the EuroGeoMars campaign 2009 coordinated by ILEWG, ESA/ESTEC and NASA Ames, with the contribution of academic partners. We discuss the entire experimental approach from determining the geological context using remote sensing, in situ measurements, sorties with sample collection and characterization, analysis in the field laboratory, to the post sample analysis using advanced laboratory facilities.

We present the rationale for terrestrial field campaigns to strengthen astrobiology research and the link between in situ and orbital remote sensing data. These campaigns are supporting the preparation for future missions such as Mars Science Laboratory, ExoMars or Mars Sample Return. We describe the EuroGeoMars 2009 campaign conducted by MDRS crew 76 and 77, focused on the investigation of surface processes in their geological context. Special emphasis was placed on sample collection and pre-screening using in-situ portable instruments. Science investigations included geological and geochemical measurements as well as detection and diagnostic of water, oxidants, organic matter, minerals, volatiles and biota.

EuroGeoMars 2009 was an example of a Moon–Mars field research campaign dedicated to the demonstration of astrobiology instruments and a specific methodology of comprehensive measurements from selected sampling sites. We discuss in sequence: the campaign objectives and trade-off based on science, technical or operational constraints. This includes remote sensing data and maps, and geological context; the monitoring of environmental parameters; the geophysical context and mineralogy studies; geology and geomorphology investigations; geochemistry characterization and subsurface studies.

We describe sample handling (extraction and collection) methods, and the sample analysis of soils and rocks performed in the MDRS laboratory using close inspection, initial petrological characterization, microscopy, Visible-NIR spectrometry, Raman spectrometry, X-ray diffraction/X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, soil analysis, electrochemical and biological measurements.

The results from post-mission analysis of returned samples using advanced facilities in collaborator institutes are described in companion papers in this issue. We present examples of in-situ analysis, and describe an example investigation on the exploration and analysis of endolithic microbial mats (from reconnaissance, in-situ imaging, sampling, local analysis to post-mission sample analysis).


Corresponding author


Hide All
Battler, M.M., Clarke, J.D.A. & Coniglio, M. (2006). Possible analog sedimentary and diagenetic features for Meridiani Planum sediments near Hanksville, Utah: implications for Martian Field studies. In Mars Analog Research, ed. Clarke, J.D.A., pp. 5570. American Astronautical Society Science and Technology Series 111.
Bibring, J.-P., Langevin, Y., Gendrin, A., Gondet, B., Poulet, F., Berthé, M., Soufflot, A., Arvidson, R., Mangold, N., Mustard, J. & Drossart, P. (2005). Mars Surface Diversity as Revealed by the OMEGA/Mars Express Observations. Science 307(5715), 15761581.
Bibring, J.P., Langevin, Y., Mustard, J.F., Poulet, F., Arvidson, R., Gendrin, A., Gondet, B., Mangold, N., Pinet, P. & Forget, F. (2006). Global mineralogical and aqueous Mars history derived from OMEGA/Mars express data. Science 312(5772), 400404.
Blake, D.F., Sarrazin, P., Bish, D.L., Chipera, S.J., Vaniman, D.T., Collins, S., Elliott, S.T. & Yen, A.S. (2007). Progress in the development of CheMin: a definitive mineralogy instrument on the Mars science laboratory (MSL’09) Rover. LPI Contribution No. 1338, p. 1257.
Borst, A., Peters, S., Foing, B.H., Stoker, C., Wendt, L., Gross, C., Zavaleta, J., Sarrazin, P., Blake, D., Ehrenfreund, P. et al. (2010). Geochemical results from EuroGeoMars MDRS Utah 2009 campaign. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 2744.
Chin, G., Brylow, S., Foote, M., Garvin, J., Kasper, J., Keller, J., Litvak, M., Mitrofanov, I., Paige, D., Raney, K., Robinson, M., Sanin, A., Smith, D., Spence, H., Spudis, P., Stern, S.A. & Zuber, M. (2007). Lunar reconnaissance orbiter overview: The Instrument Suite and Mission. Space Sci. Rev. 129(4), 391419.
Christensen, P.R., Bandfield, J.L., Hamilton, V.E., Ruff, S.W., Kieffer, H.H., Titus, T.N., Malin, M.C., Morris, R.V., Lane, M.D., Clark, al. (2001). Mars global surveyor thermal emission spectrometer experiment: investigation description and surface science results. J. Geophys. Res. 106(E10), 2382323872.
Clarke, J.D.A. & Pain, C.F. (2004). From Utah to Mars: regolith-landform mapping and its application. In Mars Expedition Planning, ed. Cockell, C.C., pp. 131160. American Astronautical Society Science and Technology Series 107.
Clarke, J.D.A. & Stoker, C.R. (2011). Concretions in inverted and exhumed channels near Hanksville Utah: implications for Mars. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Cockell, C.S., Schuerger, A.C., Billi, D., Friedmann, E.I. & Panitz, C. (2005). Effects of a simulated Martian UV flux on the cyanobacterium, Chroococcidiopsis sp 029. Astrobiology 5(2), 127140.
COSPAR Planetary Exploration Committee (PEX) Report, Ehrenfreund, P. et al. (2010).
de Crombrugghe, G., Le Maire, V., Denies, J., Jago, A., Van Vynckt, D., Reydams, M., Mertens, A., de Lobkowicz, Y. et al. in preparation.
de Vera, J.P.P., Leya, T., Lorek, A., Koncz, A., de La Torre Noetzel, R., Kozyrovska, N., Burlak, O. & Foing, B. (2010). Photosynthesis and its implications for space research, astrobiology science conference 2010: evolution and life: surviving catastrophes and extremes on earth and beyond, LPI No. 1538, p. 5139.
Direito, S., Foing, B.H., Mahapatra, P., Gomez, F. & Rull, F. (2010). Sample collection and analysis from CAREX Field Workshop at Rio Tinto. LPI Contribution No. 1538, p. 5648.
Direito, S.O.L., Ehrenfreund, P., Marees, A., Staats, M., Foing, B. & Röling, W.F.M. (2011). A wide variety of putative extremophiles and large beta-diversity at the Mars desert research station (Utah). Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Ehrenfreund, P., Foing, B.H., Stoker, C., Zavaleta, J., Quinn, R., Blake, D., Martins, Z., Sephton, M., Becker, L., Orzechowska, G. et al. (2010). EuroGeoMars field campaign: sample analysis of organic matter and minerals. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 1723.
Ehrenfreund, P., Röling, W., Thiel, C., Quinn, R., Septhon, M., Stoker, C., Direito, S., Kotler, M., Martins, Z., Orzechowska, G.E., Kidd, R. & Foing, B.H. (2011). Astrobiology and habitability studies in preparation for future Mars missions: trends from investigating minerals, organics and biota. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Feldman, W.C., Maurice, S., Lawrence, D.J., Little, R.C., Lawson, S.L., Gasnault, O., Wiens, R.C., Barraclough, B.L., Elphic, R.C., Prettyman, T.H. et al. (2001). Evidence for water ice near the lunar poles. J. Geophys. Res. 106(E10), 2323123252.
Foing, B.H. (2008). Reports to COSPAR from the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG). Adv. Space. Res. 42, 238.
Foing, B.H., Racca, G.D., Marini, A., Evrard, E., Stagnaro, L., Almeida, M., Koschny, D., Frew, D., Zender, J., Heather, J., Grande, M., Huovelin, J., Keller, H.U., Nathues, A., Josset, J.L., Malkki, A., Schmidt, W., Noci, G., Birkl, R., Iess, L., Sodnik, Z. & McManamon, P. (2006). SMART-1 mission to the Moon: status, first results and goals. Adv. Res. 37(1), 613.
Foing, B.H., Racca, G.D., Josset, J.L., Koschny, D., Frew, D., Almeida, M., Zender, J., Heather, D., Peters, S., Marini, A., Stagnaro, L., Beauvivre, S., Grande, M., Kellett, B., Huovelin, J., Nathues, A., Mall, U., Ehrenfreund, P. & McCannon, P. (2008) SMART-1 highlights and relevant studies on early bombardment and geological processes on rocky planets. Phy. Scr. 130, 014026.
Foing, B.H., Richards, R., Sallaberger, C. & ICEUM7 Participants (2008b). Toronto Lunar Declaration 2005. Adv. Space Res. 42, 242.
Foing, B.H., Wu, J. & ICEUM8 Participants (2008c). Beijing lunar declaration 2006. Adv. Space Res. 42, 244.
Foing, B.H., Bhandari, N., Goswami, J.N. & ICEUM6 Participants (2008d). Udaipur Lunar Declaration 2004. Adv. Space Res. 42, 240.
Foing, B.H., Espinasse, S., Wargo, M., di Pippo, S. & ICEUM9 Participants (2008e). Sorrento lunar declaration 2007. Adv. Space Res. 42, 246.
Foing, B.H., Batenburg, P., Drijkoningen, G., Slob, E., Poulakis, P., Visentin, G., Page, J., Noroozi, A., Gill, E., Guglielmi, M. et al. (2009). ExoGeoLab Lander/rover instruments and EuroGeoMars MDRS campaign. LPI Contribution No. 40, p. 2567.
Foing, B.H., Barton, A., Blom, J.K., Mahapatra, P., Som, S., Jantscher, B., Page, J., Zegers, T., Stoker, C., Zavaleta, J. et al. (2010a). ExoGeoLab Lander, rovers and instruments: tests at ESTEC and Eifel volcanic field. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 1701.
Foing, B.H., Boche-Sauvan, L., Stoker, C., Ehrenfreund, P., Wendt, L., Gross, C., Thiel, C., Peters, S., Borst, A., Zhavaleta, J. et al. (2010b). ExoHab and EuroGeoMars campaigns: human exploration and astrobiology. LPI Contribution No. 1538, p. 5625.
Foing, B.H., Mahapatra, P., Boche-Sauvan, L., Som, S., Page, J., Stoker, C., Zhavaleta, J., Sarrazin, P., Blake, D., Poulakis, P. et al. (2010c). ExoGeoLab test bench for landers, rovers and astrobiology. LPI Contribution No. 1538, p. 5477.
Foing, B.H., Stoker, C., Zhavaleta, J., Ehrenfreund, P., Quinn, R., Blake, D., Martins, Z., Sephton, M., Becker, L., Orzechowska, G. et al. (2010d). Eurogeomars field campaign: sample analysis of organic matter and minerals. LPI Contribution No. 1538, p. 5656.
Gendrin, A., Mangold, N., Bibring, J.-P., Langevin, Y., Gondet, B., Poulet, F., Bonello, G., Quantin, C., Mustard, J., Arvidson, R. & Le Mouélic, S. (2005). Sulfates in Martian Layered Terrains: The OMEGA/Mars Express View. Science 307(5715), 15871591.
Godfrey, A.E., Everitt, B.L., & Duque, J.F.M. (2008). Episodic sediment delivery and landscape connectivity in the Mancos Shale badlands and Fremont River system, Utah, USA. Geomorphology 102, 242251.
Gómez, F., Mateo-Martí, E., Prieto-Ballesteros, O., Martín-Gago, J. & Amils, R. (2010). Protection of chemolithoautotrophic bacteria exposed to simulated Mars environmental conditions. Icarus 209, 482.
Gómez, F., Walter, N., Amils, R., Rull, F., Klingelhöfer, A.K., Kviderova, J., Sarrazin, P., Foing, B., Behar, A., Fleischer, I., Parro, V., Garcia-Villadangos, M., Blake, D., Martin Ramos, J.D., Direito, S., Mahapatra, P., Stam, C., Venkateswaran, K. & Voytek, M. (2011). Multidisciplinary integrated field campaign to an acidic Martian Earth Analogue with astrobiological interest: Rio Tinto. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Goswami, J.N. (2010). An Overview of the Chandrayaan-1 Mission, LPI Contribution No. 1533, p 1591.
Greeley, R., Foing, B.H., McSween, H.Y., Neukum, G., Pinet, P., van Kan, M., Werner, S.C., Williams, D.A. & Zegers, T.E. (2005). Fluid lava flows in Gusev crater, Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 110(E5), E05008.
Groemer, G., Stumptner, W., Foing, B., Blom, J.K., Perrin, A., Mikolajczak, M., Chevrier, S., Direito, S., Olmedo-Soler, A., Zegers, T.E. et al. (2010). ILEWG Eifel 2009 campaign: astronaut extravehicular surface/subsurface activities and human aspects. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 1680.
Gross, C., Wendt, L., McGuire, P.C., Bonnici, A., Foing, B.H., Souza-Egipsy, V., Bose, R., Walter, S., Ormö, J., Díaz-Martínez, E. et al. (2010). The cyborg astrobiologist: testing a novelty detection algorithm at the Mars desert research station (MDRS), Utah. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 2457.
Haruyama, J., Matsunaga, T., Ohtake, M., Morota, T., Honda, C., Yokota, Y., Torii, M., Ogawa, Y. & The Lism Working Group (2008). Global lunar-surface mapping experiment using the Lunar Imager/Spectrometer on SELENE. Earth. Planets Space 60, 243255.
Haruyama, J., Ohtake, M., Matsunaga, T., Morota, T., Honda, C., Yokota, Y., Abe, M., Ogawa, Y., Miyamoto, H., Iwasaki, A. et al. (2009). Long-lived volcanism on the lunar farside revealed by SELENE terrain camera. Science 323(5916), 905.
Head, J.W., Neukum, G., Jaumann, R., Hiesinger, H., Hauber, E., Carr, M., Masson, P., Foing, B., Hoffmann, H., Kreslavsky, M. et al. (2005a). Tropical to mid-latitude snow and ice accumulation, flow and glaciation on Mars. Nature 434(7031), 346.
Head, J.W., Neukum, G., Jaumann, R., Hiesinger, H., Hauber, E., Carr, M., Masson, P., Foing, B., Hoffmann, H., Kreslavsky, M. et al. (2005b). Planetary science: are there active glaciers on Mars? Nature 438(7069), 10.
Hendrikse, J., Foing, B.H., Monaghan, E., Stoker, C., Zavaleta, J., Selch, F., Ehrenfreund, P., Wendt, L., Gross, C., Thiel, C. et al. (2010). Highlights from remote controlled rover for EuroGeoMars MDRS campaign. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 2435.
ICEUM9 ( and Sorrento Lunar Declaration (2007).
ICEUM10 ( and Cape Canaveral Lunar Declaration (2008).
ILEWG Reports and ICEUM Declarations 2006–2010 (
Jolliff, B.L., Gillis, J.J., Haskin, L.A., Korotev, R.L. & Wieczorek, M.A. (2000). Major lunar crustal terranes: surface expressions and crust-mantle origins. JGR105 4197J.
Kato, M., Sasaki, S., Tanaka, K., Iijima, Y. & Takizawa, Y. (2008). The Japanese lunar mission SELENE: science goals and present status. Adv. Space Res. 42(2), 294300.
Kim, S.S., Carnes, S., Haldemann, A., Ulmer, C., Ng, E. & Arcone, S. (2005). Miniature ground penetrating radar, CRUX GPR, IEEEAC paper #1365.
Klingelhöfer, G., Morris, R.V., Bernhardt, B., Schröder, C., Rodionov, D.S., de Souza, P.A., Yen, A., Gellert, R., Evlanov, E.N., Zubkov, B., Foh, J., Bonnes, U., Kankeleit, E., Gütlich, P., Ming, D.W., Renz, F., Wdowiak, T., Squyres, S.W. & Arvidson, R.E. (2004). Jarosite and Hematite at Meridiani Planum from Opportunity's Mössbauer Spectrometer. Sci. 306(5702) 17401745.
Kotler, M., Quinn, R., Martins, Z., Foing, B. & Ehrenfreund, P. (2011). Analysis of Mineral Matrices of planetary soils analogs from the Utah Desert. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Lucey, P.G., Blewett, D.T. & Hawke, B. (1998). Mapping the FeO and TiO2 content of the lunar surface with multispectral imagery. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 3679L.
Martins, Z., Sephton, M.A., Foing, B.H. & Ehrenfreund, P. (2011). Extraction of amino acids from soils close to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), Utah. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
McGuire, P.C., Gross, C., Wendt, L., Bonnici, A., Souza-Egipsy, V., Ormö, J., Díaz-Martínez, E., Foing, B.H., Bose, R., Walter, S. et al. (2010). The cyborg astrobiologist: testing a novelty detection algorithm on two mobile exploration systems at Rivas Vaciamadrid in Spain and at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Int. J. Astrobiol. 9, 11.
McKay, C.P. & Stoker, C.R. (1989). The early environment and its evolution on Mars: implications for life. Rev. Geophys. 27, 189214.
Murray, J.B., Muller, J.-P., Neukum, G., Werner, S.C., van Gasselt, S., Hauber, E., Markiewicz, W.J., Head, J.W., Foing, B.H., Page, D. et al. (2005). Evidence from the Mars express high resolution stereo camera for a frozen sea close to Mars’ equator. Nature 434, 352.
Neukum, G., Jaumann, R., Hoffmann, H., Hauber, E., Head, J.W., Basilevsky, A.T., Ivanov, B.A., Werner, S.C., van Gasselt, S., Murray, J.B., McCord, T., HRSC Co-Investigator Team (2004). Recent and episodic volcanic and glacial activity on Mars revealed by the High Resolution Stereo Camera. Nature 432(7020), 971979.
Ono, T., Kumamoto, A., Nakagawa, H., Yamaguchi, Y., Oshigami, S., Yamaji, A., Kobayashi, T., Kasahara, Y., Oya, H. (2009). Lunar radar sounder observations of subsurface layers under the nearside Maria of the Moon. Science 323(5916), 909.
Orzechowska, G.E., Kidd, R., Foing, B.H., Kanik, I., Stoker, C. & Ehrenfreund, P. (2011). Analysis of mars analog soil samples using solid phase microextraction, organic solvent extraction and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Parker, M., Zegers, T., Kneissl, T., Ivanov, B., Foing, B. & Neukum, G. (2010). 3D structure of the Gusev Crater region. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 294, 411.
Pieters, C.M., Goswami, J.N., Clark, R.N., Annadurai, M., Boardman, J., Buratti, B., Combe, J.-P., Dyar, M.D., Green, R., Head, J.W. et al. (2009). Character and spatial distribution of OH/H2O on the surface of the Moon seen by M3 on Chandrayaan-1. Science 326, 568.
Plester, V. & Foing, B. (2011). European contribution to human aspect investigations for future planetary habitat definition studies: field tests at MDRS on crew time utilisation and habitat interfaces. Micrograv. Sci. Technol. 23(2), 199.
Poulet, F., Bibring, J.-P., Mustard, J.F., Gendrin, A., Mangold, N., Langevin, Y., Arvidson, R.E., Gondet, B. & Gomez, C. (2004). Phyllosilicates on Mars and implications for early martian climate. Nature 438(7068), 623627.
Som, S.M., Foing, B.H. & Exogeolab Team. (2010). Testing portable Raman spectrometry for astrobiology. LPI Contribution No. 1538, p. 5085.
Squyres, S.W., Grotzinger, J.P., Arvidson, R.E., Bell, J.F., Calvin, W., Christensen, P.R., Clark, B.C., Crisp, J.A., Farrand, W.H., Herkenhoff, K.E., Johnson, J.R., Klingelhöfer, G., Knoll, A.H., McLennan, S.M., McSween, H.Y., Morris, R.V., Rice, J.W., Rieder, R. & Soderblom, L.A. (2004). In Situ Evidence for an Ancient Aqueous Environment at Meridiani Planum, Mars. Science 306(5702), 17091714.
Stoker, C., Clarke, J., Direito, S., Blake, D., Martin, K., Zavaleta, J. & Foing, B.H. (2011). Mineralogical, chemical, organic and microbial properties of subsurface soil cores from mars desert research station, a phyllosilicate and sulfate mars analog site for MSL. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Stoker, C., Foing, B., Zavaleta, J. & Clark, J. (2009). Drilling on the Moon and Mars: human exploration simulation experiments. EPSC Abstr. 4, EPSC2009-659.
Stoker, C.R., Zavaleta, J., Bell, M., Direto, S., Foing, B., Blake, D. & Kim, S. (2010). Drilling on the Moon and Mars: developing the science approach for subsurface exploration with human crews. LPI Contribution No. 41, p. 2697.
Thiel, C., Ehrenfreund, P., Foing, B., Pletser, V. & Ullrich, O. (2011). PCR-based analysis of microbial communities during the EuroGeoMars campaign at Mars Desert Research Station, Utah. Int. J. Astrobiol. (in press).
Thiel, C., Wills, D. & Foing, B.H. (2009). PCR-based detection of microbial communities during the EuroGeoMars MDRS campaign. EPSC Abstr. 4, EPSC2009-660.
Vondrak, R., Keller, J., Chin, G. & Garvin, J. (2010). Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO): Observations for lunar exploration and science. Space Sci. Rev. 150(1–4), 722.
Wendt, L., Mahapatra, P., Gross, C., Borst, A., Foing, B.H. & Exogeolab Team, Eurogeomars Team. (2009). Raman investigations of the EuroGeoMars Campaign. EPSC Abstr. 4, EPSC2009-457.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Field astrobiology research in Moon–Mars analogue environments: instruments and methods

  • B.H. Foing (a1) (a2) (a3), C. Stoker (a4), J. Zavaleta (a4), P. Ehrenfreund (a5) (a6), C. Thiel (a3) (a7), P. Sarrazin (a8), D. Blake (a4), J. Page (a1), V. Pletser (a1), J. Hendrikse (a1), S. Direito (a2), J.M. Kotler (a5), Z. Martins (a9), G. Orzechowska (a10), C. Gross (a11), L. Wendt (a11), J. Clarke (a12) (a13), A.M. Borst (a2) (a3), S.T.M. Peters (a2), M.-B. Wilhelm (a4), G.R. Davies (a2) and ILEWG EuroGeoMars 2009 Team...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.