The original purpose for constructing the Mars atmospheric simulation chamber was to obtain the water adsorption characteristics of zeolite 3A, a molecular sieve, at Mars ambient conditions. This is the focus of our current research. However, the chamber is also a general purpose facility for simulating Martian pressure, temperature, and humidity (as well as its composition - currently pure CO2is used) over typical Martian diurnal cycles. The chamber is configured to simulate low wind speeds (~2 m/s) but with slight modifications it can be made capable of about 20 m/s.
The chamber is an open loop flow system in which CO2 from a standard bottle flows through the system to a vacuum pump. Mars atmospheric pressures (~ 4 - 6 torr) are obtained by using critical orifices and mass flow controllers between the source and sink of the CO2. A flow schematic can be found in the Schematic section.
General capabilities of the chamber
The table below briefly shows the approximate range of conditions the Mars chamber can achieve. More detailed information on each of these quantities can be found in the capabilities sections.
In addition to the chamber having the capability to simulate Mars conditions, it can also be configured to operate at room pressures and temperatures. Although frost point measurements have only been made up to about -15 C, higher frost/dew points can be controlled and measured.
Pressure (torr) Pressure (torr)
|0 - 10 torr||limited by 10 torr max pressure transducer|
|Volumetric Flow Rate (m3/s)||0 - 3 x 10-3||Higher values achievable in other configurations.|
|Temperature (°K)||183 - 243|
|Frost Point (°K)||178 - 239|