UK Centre for Astrobiology


Mine Analogue Research (MINAR). Our long-running deep subsurface analogue project.

The UKCA uses its underground astrobiology laboratory at Boulby to carry out its own analogue programme called MINAR (Mine Analog Research). This project has been running since 2013. The programme focuses on the testing and development of planetary science instrumentation in an active mine with a view to improving links between planetary science and the mining community as well as carrying out planetray science and astrobiology. 

MINAR has brought in international teams from NASA, ESA, India, and universities across the UK and internationally to study life in the deep subsurface and test planetary exploration equipment. In particular, MINAR focuses on the synergies between planetary exploration and mining, using the active mine environment to test technologies that create synergies between these two areas, such as rovers to carry out 3D mapping and gas detection for safety and structural assessments in mines and the exploration of other planets. The initiative hosted the NASA Spaceward Bound project and ESA astronaut training.

Twp papers have bene published summarising the MINAR activity. MINAR 1 to 3 are summarised here and MINAR 4 and 5 are summarised here.

You can watch a Channel 4 summary of one of more recent MINAR campaigns here (although we never claimed that Boulby is the best comparison to Mars, just one environment that can provide us with useful research!).