Astrobiology and Microbiology - BISAL
22 Feb 2010



The field of ‘astrobiology’ seeks to investigate the limits of life on the Earth, the possibility of life beyond Earth, to prepare for the eventual human exploration and settlement of space and to apply this work to environmental challenges on the Earth.




 Boulby Mine, with its unique geology and existing deep underground science facility infrastructure, offers potential to make key advances in these areas.

To facilitate Astrobiology at Boulby we are establishing the Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL) connected to the current Palmer Lab. A rich programme of Astrobiology work is underway for BISAL including studies of life at depth and life in salt (both of significance to studies of life on Mars), studies of the effects of radiation (and lack of it) on life and the evolution of life. Boulby is also being used as a UK ‘Analogue’ site where exploration techniques and instrumentation for the exploration of other planetary bodies can be tested in remote & realistic conditions (MINAR - Mining and Analogue Research). The analogue programme, run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology, currently involves other organisations including NASA, Surrey Space Centre and DLR.

In addition to the usefulness in astrobiology it is anticipated that some of the instrumentation development work in the above will also be of relevance to industrial geological exploration needs, for example in mining, and effort will be made to explore and exploit these links when found.

Participating institutions:

  • STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
  • Edinburgh University​

Contact: Toth, Christopher (STFC,Boulby Mine,PPD)