Luleå University of Technology main campus at Luleå

One of the pillars for the studies carried out by the Atmospheric Science Group is the work performed in the laboratories by staff members, and where students are exposed to space research developments.
Luleå University of Technology, apart from the regular academic facilities that a world-class university must have, counts on well-equipped laboratories in the two campus in which the Group is present, namely the Rymdcampus in Kiruna and the Campus in Luleå.

Facilities at Campus in Luleå

A Martian chamber will be available as part of the MarsLab which is being installed to support the different investigations and collaborations of the Group on Mars Research, and also for calibration tests to be performed during the development of HABIT instrument. A high-pressure chamber (Venus chamber), able to reproduce the 92-bars of atmospheric pressure in the surface of Venus is available at this Lab.
The INSPIRE Lab (INstrumentation for Space and Planetary Investigation, Resources, and Exploration Lab) is the laboratory where we work in the development of new concepts and prototypes for space research and exploration.

Facilities at Rydcampus in Kiruna

Kiruna is placed on the 67th parallel north, 150 km above the Polar Circle, a location which offers a set of unique conditions for space related research, and it is considered the space capital of Sweden. There, the students can work in the Project Lab, where they have the necessary materials and instruments to develop their work, always linked to the requirements of the studies and projects of the Group.

The staff members have an Atmospheric Lab in which they can undertake different experiments related to other research lines included in the schedule of the Group.

Luleå University of Technology Space Campus at Kiruna

Supercritical Chamber. Credits: Atmospheric Science Group

MarsLab is a Martian environmental simulator which is being installed at Luleå University of Technology with the aim of becoming a cornerstone in the HABIT instrument development as well as a reference facility for the further exploration of Mars.
It is composed of the following core elements:

  • Mars atmospheric-regolith chamber.
  • Mars wind-tunnel.
  • Thermopiles calibration bench.
  • UV photodiodes calibration bench.
  • Chemical chamber.

Like any other environmental chamber, it will reproduce the basic conditions from the atmospheric-regolith boundary on Mars (pressure, temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric composition, UV irradiation and wind dynamics) and, in a first stage, it will be used mainly in the calibration of the sensors of HABIT’s ENVPACK unit and to model accurately the behaviour of the set of salts (BOTTLE unit) by means of which the water exchange cycle between Martian ground and atmospheric boundary layer will be mimicked and monitored. Besides the utility for going into depth in the understanding of atmospheric dynamics, photochemistry, and boundary layer/ground interaction, MarsLab counts on a chemical chamber specifically disposed to perform biochemical studies with relation to the assessment of the habitability potential of Martian surface and near subsurface.
In summary, MarsLab will allow to:

  • Perform experiments to validate the functioning of HABIT prototypes and of parts of the instrument.
  • Perform experiments to do end-to-end calibration of certain HABIT instrument components.
  • Perform scientific experiments for atmospheric, astrobiological, planetary science etc.
  • Sterilize certain hardware components and test the cleaning level and detection methodologies for Planetary Protection purposes.
  • Qualify certain components for space operation.
  • Validate the operation of other instruments prototypes for Mars.

During the course of ExoMars 2020 mission, in whose Surface Platform HABIT will be mounted, MarsLab will serve to get valuable information as an essential support to interpret confidently the data acquired, and also as a guide for their analysis. Nevertheless, and apart from the design requirements imposed by the achievement of these immediate goals, careful attention is being paid in order to construct a versatile facility useful far beyond the scope of ExoMars 2020 mission. MarsLab shows an architecture expressly outlined to permit the implementation of a wide variety of experiments by introducing minor changes, coupling new instruments, or adjusting different arrangements.

The INSPIRE Lab is a laboratory designed and equipped with all the relevant hardware and software tools to create a multidisciplinary design environment, providing effective communication, data interchange, and engineering tools, so that our team members (staff, Master students, and PhD candidates) can work concurrently in the design and developing of prototypes for space research and exploration.
The INSPIRE Lab is a place where ideas relevant for atmospheric research and space come true!