LICA EuroMoonMars main campaign in Atacama Chile

EMM scouting campaign, Laguna Turquesa at salar de Pedernales (3300 m asl). Credit: Bernard Foing, EuroMoonMars Chile

The 2022 LICA/EMM expedition took place from 21 February to 5 March 2022 with 10 days spent in high altitude (from 3300 m to 6600 m Ojos del Salado). Experiments were conducted in geophysics, geochemistry, volcanology, microbiology/astrobiology, high altitude health and medicine. A mobile laboratory and diverse instruments were used. About fifteen people equally divided between local researchers and EMM collaborators took part in expedition, with EMM remote support from Europe. Thanks to the LICA local hosts and organizers Ayon Garcia, Adrien Tavernier, Chris Ulloa and all campaign participants!

A second EMM scouting expedition was organized in various altitudes exploring sand dunes desert, the ghost mining city of Puquios, 4500 m pass, Salar de Maricunga, Salar Pedernales with distinct colorful lagunas. We crossed through varying landscapes, vegetation and fauna (including vizcachas and guanacos. Another EMM scouting expedition was organized along the Atacama desert road, also with flyby the through Vallenar, and discovering beaches, coastal regions at Punto de Choros, La Serena, and the fishing harbours of Coquimbo and Guanaqueros. In these EMM scouting expeditions we also installed some ArtMoonMars and MoonGallery artefacts, as a dialogue with our MoonGallery Test Flight now on ISS. We also spent midnight at the darkest site near La Silla observatory for viewing southern stars, the milky way, and the Magellanic clouds.

We had also EMM collaborative meetings with vice-rectors of U de Atacama UDA, working with UDA geology and astronomy institutes. We also performed night telescopic observations from Copiapo. Bernard Foing gave (in Spanish) on 7 March a EuroMoonMars lecture at UDA geology department (broadcast on UDA TV), and on 8 March 16h CLT , the LICA EMM campaign crew gave individual experiments reports (in mixed Spanish & English) at cultural Casa Maldini, Copiapo. A ceremony took place on 8 March 15h CLT for a collaboration agreement signed by the rector of UDA and the chairman of LUNEX EuroMoonMars/ArtMoonMars.

Here, we share the thoughts of the crew at the beginning of the expedition: "The Ojos del Salado Expedition team has come together from everywhere around the earth! Featuring Chile, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Netherlands. The logistics aspects were not the easiest ones: even before the start of the expedition we had to face many organizational issues, as it is to be expected when reuniting together people coming from completely different environments: this was in fact a campaign involving geophysics, astrobiology, medicine, and even art and communication! The LICA team from Atacama University put a great deal of energy and effort and did a great job binding all this elements together. Luckily, The chemistry between the people has been amazing so far: every person bring their own expertise, everyone is ready to give a helping hand with great empathy and compassion, the mood is high and the team manages successfully to find solutions and maintain mental clarity in stressful situations. Every member in this expedition has gifts and talents that come up unexpectedly as the road unravels! The logistical team also deserves a special mention, not only taking us safely to the most remote and beautiful landscapes, but also sharing secret stories and traditions about this breathtaking land”.

Partners: EuroMoonMars, Cryosphere and Water Research Laboratory of the University of Atacama (LICA), VU Amsterdam, University of Padua