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Mars Amity Research Station
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Amity Centre of Excellence in Astrobiology

Overview of Our Research

Amity Centre of Excellence in Astrobiology (ACoeA, pronounced as ‘aqua’) has been established in February 2019, keeping in mind the critical need to have an integrated centre in India that focuses on all pursuits towards studying the origin of Life and its evolution, distribution on Earth and in the Universe. This Centre of Excellence is a natural outcome from the continued research and education efforts of the Amity Education Group since August 2016 to support astrobiology work in India. The Centre, in partnership with national and international labs, currently leads astrobiology-focused field studies and simulation with a focus on understanding the habitability potential of regions on Mars. The Centre is also involved in the development of biology experiments in the upper atmospheric and Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The Centre introduces undergraduate/graduate students to Astrobiology research and undertakes citizen-driven Space exploration projects.

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The Three Poles: Terrestrial Analogues of Mars by Dr Binita Phartiyal

The Three Poles: Terrestrial Analogues of Mars by Dr Binita Phartiyal

Monthly Amity Astrobiology Webinar Episode by Dr Binita Phartiyal. The earth offers several places which are aptly qualify for analogue of Mars. The landscape and the geomorphic features make them look as though they are the replicas of our extra-terrestrial neighbourhood. Studies and analysis conducted in these sites are the nearest clue to the geology, geomorphology, life and processes beyond the Earth. Hence analogue site studies are necessary, as they help to understand geological and geomorphological processes (on Earths analogue sites) which can be extrapolated to other planets in order to interpret and validate the data received from orbiters and rovers. There are several analogue sites of Mars on earth. Our barren, cold and arid polar regions namely Antarctica, Arctic and the Third pole host several such sites, which have a great resemblance to the extra-terrestrial correspondent. The Arctic and the Antarctic have been recognised as analogue sites but the Third pole region (especially the Ladakh region of NW India) holds a great fidelity to be an analogue site. Ladakh region is a barren, high altitude, cold, arid desert with a lunar topography. It features some of the best sites to study astrogeology-due to extremely cold, no vegetation, high altitude and desertic environment. The geographical setup, dynamic and active geological setting of the young mountain belt of the Himalaya, and the science capability of the trans Himalayan ranges support the study of astrogeology as well as astrobiology. The geomorphic features and the vast exposures of the sediments in can be helpful in generating data on paleoclimate, climate modelling, tectonics and earth surface processes and help us in the better understanding of the Martian geomorphology; the hot springs, and the sulphur deposits can help us understand the extremophiles in these environment and the lakes and paleolakes can help reconstruct the ecological and climatic processes involved. Several studies on Mars point to, cratered highland of moderate to high relief, isolated knobs and massifs of rugged mountainous materials, extensive tracts of smooth and chanelled plains, surface deposits and features like rounded pebbles and cobbles, conglomerates, outflow channel systems, frozen ground, etc., These are suggestive of mass movements, landslides, catastrophic floods, active fluvial processes, erosional and depositional work of the wind, ice and water. All these processes are encountered today in the Ladakh region. Hence planetary exploration in the context of geological and geomorphological research can be clearly understood and well interpreted if these processes on the terrestrial surface of Ladakh (third pole region) can be studied and understood.
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