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SSERVI’s RIS4E team at Stony Brook University opened the Center for Planetary Exploration (CPEX). Several elected officials and University administrators attended the grand opening celebration on Friday, August 26th at 4pm.

Students, staff, and faculty at Stony Brook University are hard at work gathering data on the history of Mars. But the research there goes beyond mars.

“We do things in the lab here the same way as we would with spacecraft around Mars or the Moon,” says Principal Investigator Tim Glotch.

The Center is home to a vibrational spectroscopy laboratory which bounces light off of rocks to determine what they are made of, and there is also a geochemistry laboratory, which includes a test bed for the Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) instrument that will fly on the Mars rover on 2020.

This X-Ray microscope will be mounted at the end of the rover’s robotic arm so that it can be placed next to a rock or soil target to tell scientists what elements are present in rock samples, and where those elements are located. It is designed to provide finer-scale identification of elemental composition than ever before possible on Mars.

The instrument’s capabilities would help NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission accomplish its goals, which include seeking evidence for past life on Mars. The Mars 2020 rover also will help advance our knowledge of how future human explorers could use natural resources available on the surface of the Red Planet. An ability to live off the Martian land would transform future exploration of the planet. Designers of future human expeditions can use this mission to understand the hazards posed by Martian dust and demonstrate technology to process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce oxygen. These experiments will help engineers learn how to use Martian resources to produce oxygen for human respiration and potentially for use as an oxidizer for rocket fuel.

This is a huge milestone, and SSERVI is happy and honored to have been a part of it.

For more, read this news story by Gregory Zeller

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: SSERVI Team

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