RIS4E in the Lab
RIS4E researchers at Stony Brook and around the country explore the secrets and assess the risks of far-off worlds without leaving their labs. (Photo: Briana Lionetti)
The dangers that a crew of NASA astronauts might face on a mission to the moon are well known from the days of Apollo: Launch and re-entry, radiation, space debris. But there’s one more that never got much attention: moon dust.
Scientists argue as to whether micrometeoroid bombardment or solar wind plays a more important role in the process of space weathering. To help answer that question, planetary scientists at Stony Brook University are planning to mimic the process of space weathering, using a small, specially built vacuum box and one of the brightest lights on Earth.
Jordan Young, a PhD student at Stony Brook University, prepares to search a slice of meteorite, looking for chemicals composed of carbon and hydrogen. He will use a Raman spectrometer, a device that uses lasers to determine the chemical makeup of rocks and minerals, molecule by molecule.
PIXL — Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry — is one of seven scientific instruments on the Mars 2020 rover tasked with finding signs of past microbial life on Mars. Roughly the size of a basketball, PIXL will sit on the end of the rover’s arm and identify elements in Martian rocks at a scale the size of a grain of salt.