A research team featuring Georgia Tech scientists has designed an instrument to aid in the analysis of Martian ice cores. The Melter-Sublimator for Ice Science, or MSIS, methodically melts and sublimates ice samples. With humans likely to visit the Red Planet in the coming decades, exploring ice-rich areas like its South Pole, now seems an excellent time to test out the MSIS. The device consists of two separate components, the Melter on top and the Sublimator beneath it. When combined, they allow the controlled initial processing of an ice core or smaller ice fragments, turning a sample ice into either vapor or meltwater, after which specialized tools could be used to perform a detailed analysis, perhaps searching for concentrations of isotopes or the signatures of microorganisms. Chris Carr, assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is one of the MSIS researchers.
Wibbly wobbly melty welty: A new tool for processing Martian ice cores