Prof. Kosmas Pavlopoulos: Searching for Martian soil analogues in UAE and Oman

Project summary

The future settlement of Mars will require to overcome several significant drawbacks and create life support systems. Food production with conventional agriculture will be one of the life support system.
UAE and Oman geology has a unique characteristic, the extensive ophiolite nappe with basalt, peridotites and gabbro. The weathering of such type of rocks is producing a mineralogy in analogy to Mars soil. Thus, the objective of this project is to identify areas of similar or as close as possible soil mineralogy to that of Mars. Further we will investigate the soil type and we will compare it geochemically, mineralogically and physically with Martian analogue composite soils.
Create a composite soil as an analogue for Mars. Twenty samples of soils will be analyses by XRF, grain size and mineralogical analysis, and estimation of water holding capacity. in the soils.
We are going to obtain soil simulants from abroad in order to compare it with the soil developed in UAE and Oman. Mars soil simulants have been developed in Department of Physics, University of Central Florida with the code MGS. We are going to compare the soils obtained from UAE and Oman with the analogues obtained from University of central Florida
After we have identified the soils which are mostly resemblance to Mars soil analogues we are going to identify agriculture practices which are applied is these type of soils. This step is critical to be able to know how we are dealing with these soils here on Earth and what will be the challenges for cultivating those in Mars.

Project dates

July 2020 – ongoing

Partnerships

University of Sharjah, Department of Applied Physics and Astronomy (PI)
Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (Co PI)
Sultan Qaboos University (CoPI)

Funding

University of Sharjah Department of Applied Physics and Astronomy