What Does Research From Meili-I and NASA Have in Common?

︎ 31 July 2023

The BBC has published an article announcing that ‘Nasa scientists are collecting ancient rocks from the Isle of Rum because they are very similar to rocks on Mars.’ This is extremely exciting for one researcher on our Meili-I Mission: Arty Goodwin.

Arty is a planetary geologist at the University of Manchester. They have been studying craters from meteor impacts on the Earth and Mars as part of their PhD. Arthur will be assisting the Meili-I Mission in August which will take place on an island on the West Coast of Scotland — a stone’s throw from the Isle of Rum. Their study will focus on sedimentological units present on the island, including the Scarba Conglomerate Formation, a solid aggregate of pebbles and sand. They will be looking at how this type of rock preserves evidence for the high-energy submarine debris avalanche it was deposited by. The geological study will act as an analogue for ejecta layers thrown out of huge impact craters. In other words, the type of rock that is formed when a meteor impacts Earth or Mars. It will also inform how crews can best collect data to study them in remote locations. Excitingly, Arty’s study has potential applications for astronauts looking at impact layers which may be visited during NASA’s upcoming Artemis Program, as well as future missions to Mars. (Click the links to find out more).

Arty hopes to compare the data collected to actual Mars ejecta material which has been preserved in a unique Martian meteorite (Northwest Africa 7034 and pairs). This will help to understand the highly energetic processes that create impact ejecta and how to best characterize them — which could be important for the upcoming Mars sample return. (Click).

Arty’s study has potential applications for astronauts... during NASA’s upcoming Artemis Program, as well as future missions to Mars.

Picture of ejecta layer called the Stac Fada Member taken at Bay of Stoer, NW Scotland. The huge geologic diversity of the Scottish coastline provides numerous possibilities for research.

Remarkably, NASA researchers are also looking at rocks on the West Coast of Scotland. NASA found that rocks from the Isle of Rum are an “excellent comparison to those in the Mars crater” as they have a similar mineralogy as Mars basalts. The Rum rocks will be used to practice testing methods before rocks are returned from Mars in 2033. To read more about this exciting endeavour, click here to read the BBC article. It is encouraging to see that related studies are being made and the UK is playing an important role in international planetary discoveries.

This news is promising for Space Health Research as it indicates that through Meili-I we are providing our researchers, like Arty, with a location that can provide high-quality scientific testing and research. We look forward to the Meili-I analogue mission, which is now 12 days away!