Planetary Mineralogy and Astromineralogy

Mineral physics under exceptional environmental conditions is the basis for understanding the behavior of geomaterials and mineral components, which are significantly involved in the formation of planets, their moons, but also exoplanets.

Expertise at the Department includes the ability to perform experimental in-situ measurements that allow pressures up to the megabar range, while covering temperature variations from surface temperatures on icy moons to the deep interior of the Earth. Thermomechanical properties, phase stabilities and structural transformations under extreme conditions are the focus of interest.


FWF Project: Unraveling the Mysterious 'LH-Kieserite' on Mars

The widespread distribution of hydrated sulfate minerals in our solar system, e.g. on Mars or the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, has generated great scientific interest in the past years. In a recently completed FWF project, the project team was also able to discover, among other things, strong evidence for the potential extraterrestrial occurrence of a hitherto little-noticed group of Mg sulfate mineral ores, together with the mysterious 'LH kieserite' referred to as 'MHSH' phases. The aim of the current project is therefore to synthesize MHSH phases in varying compositions and to study in detail their spectroscopic and crystallographic properties at low temperatures and high pressures, among other conditions. The results obtained in this way will serve as a reference for comparison with satellite or rover data from Mars or the icy moons and will even enable us to derive the chemical composition of samples from the planet's surface from transmitted infrared or Raman spectra.