Hypatia I soil testing on Mars!

Hypatia I is an interdisciplinary and multigenerational team of Catalan female scientists who journeyed to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah in April 2023 for an analog mission to determine if there is life on Mars. At MDRS, they performed high-quality space-related research in a simulated environment, in which they also conducted outreach and science-based communication programs. Most importantly, their work aims to inspire the next generation of young girls interested in pursuing STEM-related careers.

For about 2 weeks, the Hypatia I crew conducted their research while contributing to the understanding of what living and working on Mars would be like. Throughout their time at MDRS, each crew member conducted experiments relating to their individual specialties. Some of the experiments included the development of an iron-based battery using materials in the environment surrounding MDRS, and a comparative seed experiment to study the potential effects of space travel on tomato seeds.

Additionally, the crew collected soil samples from the surrounding desert and, using the microBIOMETER®, tested the soil for evidence of life. The team found that the microBIOMETER® could detect life in 7 of the 11 different desert plots. While the microbial biomass levels were low, with a range of 50-120 ugC/g, the existence of any bacteria or fungi was exciting to see. Hypatia I’s analog mission shows promise for future studies relating to space biology.