> Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL)

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A flagship facility of the UKCA is the Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL). This is the Centre’s underground astrobiology lab and part of the STFC Underground Science Facility at Boulby.


Read an article about BISAL here and a paper about its use as an analog research site by following this link: Planetary Science and Exploration in the Deep Subsurface.


BISAL is also being used as a basis for conducting analogue research in the deep subsurface for the testing of space technology and technology transfer into the mining environment. This is done with the MINAR programme.


If you want to use BISAL or take part in the MINAR programme please contact us.


Deep subsurface labBISAL is a microbiology laboratory located at 1.1 km depth in the Boulby Mine in Yorkshire, UK. It was established by UKCA in collaboration with Cleveland Potash (CPL) in conjunction with STFC’s existing Dark Matter lab, The Palmer Laboratory.


BISAL is the world’s first permanent deep subsurface astrobiology laboratory and one of the deepest permanent labs capable of carrying out microbiology. The lab has been funded by the STFC Futures Programme.









BISAL is a fully internet connected air conditioned laboratory that will be capable of being used for basic microbiology and sample preparation and analysis.











At BISAL we:

  • subsurface brine pondsInvestigate life in deep subsurface salts
  • Investigate geochemically active zones in the deep subsurface
  • Study biosignatures of life and their longevity in the deep subsurface
  • Test instrumentation and rovers for the robotic and human exploration of other planets

 BISAL in relation to other deep subsurface laboratories


Laboratory Depth Substrate
International  Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory, Boulby, UK 1.1 km Permian salt
Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, Ontario 2.07 km Granite
Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane, France 1.75 km Schist
Gran Sasso National Laboratory, Italy 1.4 km Dolomite and limestone
Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory, Sweden 500 m Dorite, granite and greenstone