Today the MARSLIFE team arrived in Fort Sumner, NM. Here we plan to launch a fleet of the smaller Life’s Atmospheric Microbial Boundary (LAMB) payloads to map how the concentrations of microbes vary at increasing altitudes. These mission will collect samples from a few hundred feet off the ground up to ~100,000 ft. The samples will then be analyzed to determine the number of cells collected. We will also attempt to culture microorganisms from different heights in the atmosphere.
In addition to the smaller payloads, we will also be launching the High Altitude Student Platform carrying a variety of payloads from universities across the country. The MARSLIFE team is flying the High Altitude Device for Entrapping Samples (HADES) payload to collect microbes from ~125,000 ft. This larger platform will reach the float altitude and collect samples for 6-12 hours (depending on wind speeds).
The past week has been filled with the largest sampling prep we have ever undertaken. We have never flown this many payloads in such a short period of time. The added bonus of being away from the LSU facility means a lot of packing. I transported a fully functioning lab in the back of a Suburban. I can truly appreciate the effort my fellow lab mates had to put forth for months of work in Antarctica.
Thank you to the team members back at LSU:
- David Branch
- Scott Burke
- Seth Junot
- Craig Jones
We will get to see all that hard work pay off over the next few weeks. More to come!