The HABIT (HabitAbility: Brine Irradiation and Temperature) environmental instrument for the ExoMars 2022 Surface Platform

Javier Martín-Torres, María Paz Zorzano, Álvaro Soria-Salinas, Miracle Israel Nazarious, Samuel Konatham, Thasshwin Mathanlal, Abhilash Vakkada Ramachandran, Juan Antonio Ramírez-Luque, Roberto Mantas-Nakhai

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Abstract

The HABIT (HabitAbility: Brine Irradiation and Temperature) instrument is a European payload of the ExoMars 2022 Surface Platform Kazachok that will characterize the present-day habitability at its landing place in Oxia Planum, Mars. HABIT consists of two modules: (i) EnvPack (Environmental Package) that monitors the thermal environment (air and ground), the incident ultraviolet radiation, the near-surface winds and the atmospheric dust cycle; and (ii) BOTTLE (Brine Observation Transition To Liquid Experiment), an In-situ Resource Utilization instrument to produce liquid water for future Mars exploration. BOTTLE will be used also to investigate the electrical conductivity properties of the martian atmosphere, the present-day atmospheric-ground water cycle and to evaluate if liquid water can exist on Mars in the form of brines, and for how long. These variables measured by HABIT are critical to determine the present and future habitability of the martian surface. In this paper, we describe in detail the HABIT instrument and sensors, together with the calibration of its Flight Model (FM) and the Engineering Qualification Model (EQM) versions. The EnvPack module has heritage from previous missions operating on the surface of Mars, and the environmental observations of its sensors will be directly comparable to those delivered by those missions. HABIT can provide information of the local temperature with ±0.2 ​°C accuracy, local winds with ±0.3 ​m/s, surface brightness temperature with ±0.8 ​°C, incident UV irradiance with 10% error of its absolute value in the UV-A, UV-B, UV-C ranges, as well as in the total UV-ABC range, and two additional wavebands, dedicated to ozone absorption. The UV observations can be used to derive the total opacity column and thus monitor the dust and ozone cycles. BOTTLE can demonstrate the hydration state of a set of four deliquescent salts, which have been found on Mars (calcium chloride, ferric sulphate, magnesium perchlorate and sodium perchlorate) by monitoring their electric conductivity (EC). The EC of the air and the dry salts under Earth ambient, clean room conditions is of the order of 0.1 μScm−1. We have simulated HABIT operations, within an environmental chamber, under martian conditions similar to those expected at Oxia Planum. For dry, CO2 atmospheric conditions at martian pressures, the air EC can be as low as 10−8 μScm−1, however it increases with the relative humidity (RH) percentage. The laboratory experiments show that after an increase from 0 to 60% RH within a few hours, the EC of the air increased up to 10−1 μScm−1, magnesium perchlorate hydrated and reached values of 10 μScm-1, whereas calcium chloride deliquesced forming a liquid state with EC of 102 μScm−1. HABIT will operate with a regular cadence, through day and night. The Electronic Unit (EU) is protected with a heater that is activated when its temperature is below −33 ​°C and disabled if the temperature of the surface platform rises above −30 ​°C. Additionally, the heaters of the BOTTLE unit can be activated to dehydrate the salts and reset the experiment. HABIT weighs only 918 ​g. Its power consumption depends on the operation mode and internal temperature, and it varies between 0.7 ​W, for nominal operation, and 13.1 ​W (when heaters are turned on at full intensity). HABIT has a baseline data rate of 1.5 MB/sol. In addition to providing critical environmental observations, this light and robust instrument, will be the first demonstrator of a water capturing system on the surface of Mars, and the first European In-Situ Resource Utilization in the surface of another planet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104968
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Volume190
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Astrobiology
  • Atmosphere
  • Brines
  • ExoMars
  • Habitability
  • ISRU
  • Instrumentation
  • Mars
  • Regolith
  • Surface platform
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Martín-Torres, J., Zorzano, M. P., Soria-Salinas, Á., Nazarious, M. I., Konatham, S., Mathanlal, T., Ramachandran, A. V., Ramírez-Luque, J. A., & Mantas-Nakhai, R. (2020). The HABIT (HabitAbility: Brine Irradiation and Temperature) environmental instrument for the ExoMars 2022 Surface Platform. Planetary and Space Science, 190, [104968]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2020.104968