An Easy Mission to Mars
We need citizen scientists to help us collect soil samples from dry desert environments.
Florida Tech and the Aldrin Space Institute are working together to build the largest database of Mars regolith here on Earth.
Regolith is essentially a soil simulant that mirrors Mars’ dry, arid desert-like environment. So far we’ve collected samples from six desert locations including Hawai’i, Mohave Desert, Sonora Desert, Canary Islands, the Andes and Atacama.
The regolith will be used to test farming techniques that could be employed by future Mars colonists. Currently our Mars simulated garden is yielding small crops and we are already learning how to manipulate the regolith to improve crop yield.
With hopes of collecting regolith samples from other dry desert environments, Dr. Daniel Batcheldor, astrophysicist and department head for physics and space science, is heralding the call to citizen scientists.
“Mars is very difficult and expensive to get to, so what we want to do is find those materials that are similar on Earth so that we can carry out tests here,” says Batcheldor.
Here’s where you come in.
Just by sending us a picture you can be part of the journey to colonizing Mars. If you live near or plan to visit a desert location, tweet or Instagram us (@Florida Tech or include the hashtag #FloridaTech and #mars) a picture of your location and soil. Dr. Batcheldor will evaluate its potential for inclusion in the regolith database. If the team thinks it will make for a good Mars simulant, we will mail you a collection tube to be returned to campus. Your name could be published in a scientific journal for your contribution. Pretty easy work to get your name in print if we do say so!