x

Sciences

Cyprus Aims for Mars with X-Ray Rock Dating Instrument

October 21, 2021

NICOSIA — Tiny Cyprus aims to join the global space exploration drive by developing a compact, X-Ray instrument capable of dating Martian soil and rock samples relatively accurately to potentially reveal more about the Red Planet’s geological history and offer a glimpse of Earth’s own future.

George Danos, President of the Cyprus Space Exploration Organization, told reporters on Thursday that the 1.5 million euro ($1.75 million) European Union funded project is a first for Cyprus and aims to be completed over the next 18 months.

Danos said the CSEO will look for partners including NASA and the European Space Agency that would take the instrument aboard a Mars-bound spacecraft for more accurate, on-the-ground soil and rock dating on the Martian surface.

A group of prominent scientists have joined the project. They include Marcello Coradini, former head of the European Space Agency’s Solar System Exploration division, Enrico Flamini, ex-chief scientist at Italy’s Space Agency ASI, and planetary geologist Lucia Marinangeli.

The scientists chose Cyprus to develop the instrument because it can be tested on pockets of the east Mediterranean island nation’s volcanic rock and soil that are similar to those found on Mars. Danos said scientists identified at least two areas where Cypriot rock and soil sediments weathered by water and wind erosion bear similarities to the Martian surface.

The instrument, called “In Time,” works by emitting X-Rays on tiny soil and rock samples that give off a luminescence whose intensity enables scientists to determine their age.

Danos said any astronaut trips to Mars must be preceded by careful study of the planet to understand its potential to possibly host human habitation.

Coradini said the experimentation would help scientists to also understand the geological evolution of Mars, which is considered a sister planet to Earth. Understanding the catastrophes that preceded Mars’ transition from a wet to a dry planet could offer clues about where the Earth’s own geological future is headed, Coradini said.

RELATED

NICOSIA - The sudden spread of COVID-19 despite a high vaccination rate has led Cyprus’ government to impose even stricter health measures in a bid to try to rein in the pandemic with the Omicron Variant a new threat.

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Stories

Society

THESSALONIKI - A symbol of holiness around the world – but now also of some defiance against COVID-19 measures - Mt Athos has become a strange brew of monks supporting restrictions to slow the pandemic and those who don't believe in them.

Politics

ANKARA - Trying to sway international opinion against Greece, Turkey said its Coast Guard rescued 29 refugees allegedly pushed back into Turkish waters in the Aegean Sea by Greek forces.

Sciences

ATHENS - More than 130 early-career researchers, PhD candidates, and postdocs from the Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas (FORTH) have dedicated the last five years to research through the ARCHERS program, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Video

White House Holiday Decor Honors COVID-19 Frontline Workers

WASHINGTON — Holiday decorations unveiled Monday for Joe and Jill Biden's first White House Christmas honor frontline workers who persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic.