SPICE - Experiment SPICE: Material Strength and Cohesion of Martian Soil

The aim of the SPICE project was firstly to develop sensors andtechniques suitable for in-situ measurements of soil strength ona surface platform on Mars. A second goal was the establishmentof a soil model for dry granular materials which can typically befound on Mars.

Short Description

Since the exploration of the planet Mars is currently in the focus of all major space agencies, the understanding of the physical properties of Martian soil has become an issue of interest.

For this project a penetrometer test facility was established at the "Planetary Surface Laboratory" of the Space Research Institute in Graz, which allows to perform soil strength measurements for a variety of Martian analogue materials.

The same materials were tested with standard soil-engineering methods and the results were used to develop a finite element soil model, which was then calibrated with the results from the laboratory test facility.

Additional soil parameters can be derived directly from the penetrometry data, such as grain size distribution or density to peak force relations. As a spin off, the technologies and tools developed within this project will be investigated for their usability in terrestrial engineering applications.

Project Partners


Institut für Weltraumforschung der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften - Günter Kargl


TU Graz Inst. f. Bodenmechanik und Grundbau - Stephan Semprich

Contact Address