Multi-anvil / High-Pressure petrology Lab
The High-Pressure Laboratory consists of four solid-media presses for performing experiments on planetary materials at the elevated pressures and temperatures appropriate to the interiors of asteroids and planetary bodies (e.g., Earth, Moon, Mars, and asteroid 4 Vesta). Simulation of these high P-T conditions allows scientists to constrain processes that produced differentiated rocks from planets and asteroids. With this type of information, models can be constructed that help explain how terrestrial planets form, and how particular magmatic processes control various compositional relationships in these rock types.
The lab houses two multi-anvil presses designed to reach pressures between about 3 and 30 GPa (1 GPa = 10 kbar or about ten thousand atmospheres pressure) and two piston-cylinder presses, designed to achieve pressures of 0.5 to 4.0 GPa. Together with the capabilities in the JSC one atmosphere experimental petrology laboratory, our labs can reach conditions of pressure and temperature typical of small asteroids (essentially zero pressure) up to those of terrestrial-sized planetary interiors. We use this equipment to perform experiments on geological and planetary materials at the elevated pressures and temperatures appropriate to their formation. The goal of our experiments is to mimic the conditions inside planetary bodies (mainly Earth, Moon, and Mars) where processes took place that gave rise to igneous rocks. Armed with this type of information, models can be constructed that help explain how terrestrial planets form, in general, and how particular magmatic processes produce the igneous rocks we observe today.