Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PTAL (Planetary Terrestrial Analogues Library)
Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31
in operation at terrestrial planets and small Solar System bodies. The characterisation of the surface of these planetary
objects is one of the major goals of space exploration. In order to support these operations, reduction and analyses of
the space mission data, the PTAL (Planetary Terrestrial Analogues Library) project aims to build and exploit a multi-instrument
spectral data base and joint spectral interpretation tools. We will determine mineral alteration pathways
for natural and artificial terrestrial analogue materials under well-defined and controlled experimental conditions.
The impact of varying environmental conditions (e.g. gas pressure, temperature, pH-value) will be tested to better
constrain the geochemical aspect of habitable conditions on Mars, the prime target of this project. All natural and
artificial rock samples and their alteration products will be characterised for the spectral library with commercial and
dedicated spacecraft instrumentation (XRD, NIR, RAMAN, LIBS) under laboratory conditions, and where possible on in situ
Both the understanding of alteration pathways and coordinated analyses of the surface of Mars from orbital and landed
platforms with new and well-characterised spectral data will allow unprecedented interpretations of the climatic and
environmental evolution for materials detected at new landing sites using our well-defined experimental parameter
space for deriving conditions and evolution of environment and climate at Mars. Defining and characterising the
ingredients for habitability at yet another planet will broaden our conception on the origin and evolution of life on our
own planet, and prepare future investigations of forthcoming space missions in which several project members are
Field Analogue Site Studies, WP2 – Spectral characterisation of laboratory samples, WP3 – Spectral characterisation of planetary
surfaces from orbital and landed data, WP4 – Spectral Library of NIR, Raman and LIBS, and WP5 – Management and Dissemination.
The main objective of the Planetary Terrestrial Analogues Library (PTAL) project is to build and exploit the spectral library for the
characterisation of the mineralogical and geological evolution of terrestrial planets and small Solar System bodies.
This aim will be achieved by conducting the following four tasks:
1. Performing laboratory experiments under controlled conditions and documenting rock alteration of field-collected planetary
(often Martian) analogue materials, so that the impact of varying of environmental conditions (e.g. gas pressure, temperature,
pH-value) can be quantified. We want to characterise and define the geochemical aspect of habitable conditions on Mars, which
is the prime target of this investigation.
In this period, we have collected rocks and continued experiments to achieve this objective as reported under work package one (WP1).
2. Characterising of rocks and their alteration/weathering products as input for the spectral library with standard commercial and dedicated
spacecraft instrumentation (NIR, RAMAN, LIBS, XRD) under laboratory conditions and where possible on in-situ field campaigns at Earth analogue sites.
In this period, we continued the characterising rocks and their natural and experimental alteration products with the above mentioned methods, as reported under work packages one and two (WP1, WP2).
3. Performing coordinated analyses of the Martian surface from both orbital and landed platforms with new spectral data. The
documentation of these analyses will result in scientific publications.
In this period, besides working on the exploitation of the collected data, one of tasks was providing a dissemination plan as reported under work package three (WP 3).
4. Developing a data base, which will allow users to jointly interpret laboratory results and newly gathered in-situ or remote sensing
data using the instruments (LIBS, NIR, RAMAN) on board of current and future space missions (e.g. Hayabusa-2, Curiosity, ExoMars, Mars2020).
In the previous period, we continued to implement the data base concept and input characteristics were defined, and well we started to populate the database, as reported under work package four (WP 4).
Our project has been presented at several outreach events, for example, at the 11th European Researchers' Night Event, or the Oslo Science Fair 2016.
controlled environmental conditions. Such an approach for space material is novel and has found in the recent month many
followers. Our goal is to provide by the end of the project an openly accessible library with these well-characterised materials.
Defining and characterising the ingredients for climate variability and habitability at yet another planet will broaden our
conception on the origin and evolution of life on our own planet, and prepare future investigations of forthcoming space
missions in which several project members are highly involved.