Lecture Weds 7th March - “Mars Sample Return technology: development and testing in Antarctica” - Dr Patrick Harkness, Univ of Glasgow

Dr Patrick Harkness

Planetary drilling is more difficult than drilling on Earth. Low gravity reduces the possible weight-on-bit, and freezing conditions can seize the bit downhole. Furthermore, to reach any depth, it will be necessary to assemble the drillstring in-situ, which is a challenging task for robotic systems.

This talk will discuss a recently-concluded technology development programme which created a testbed for a range of low-force drilling and sample caching systems, before testing those systems at a field analogue site in Antarctica. Interestingly, because polar exploration also requires low-force drilling in freezing conditions, the technology is currently being spun out to the British Antarctic Survey.

We are now working to deploy a larger version back to West Antarctica, as part of a scientific sampling programme, as early as January 2019. The lessons learned from this programme, in turn, will inform research with respect to larger-scale planetary drilling in the future.

Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB - details here......

With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.