LPI Science Labs and Equipment
The LPI hosts a variety of experimental and analytical equipment, facilities, and laboratories that are available to LPI science staff in support of their research.
Scanning Electron Microscope
The LPI maintains a benchtop SEM, a Phenom XL from Nanoscience Instruments. It is intended for imaging, elemental mapping, and semi-quantitative chemical analyses of planetary samples as a precursor to detailed analyses with the dedicated instruments at ARES/JSC. The Phenom has a CeB6 electron source, which provides a tight, bright electron beam for high-resolution imaging in secondary electrons (SEI) and high contrast imaging by backscattered electrons (BEI). The Phenom carries a large-area SDD X-ray detector, which permits the rapid collection of elemental maps and low-noise EDS spectra for semi-quantitative chemical analyses.
The LPI has a benchtop Raman spectrometer system, a Raman-HR-TEC-785 system from StellarNet, Inc. The spectrometer is suitable for lab and field office use and is intended to provide quick mineral analyses and mapping of planetary and planetary analog samples. The system uses a laser of 785 nm wavelength (near-infrared) to suppress fluorescence and a spectrometer covering Raman shifts of 200–2650 cm–1 with a resolution of 4 cm–1. The system’s dedicated software includes a Raman spectral library and a search tool.
The LPI maintains a research-grade petrographic microscope, a Leica DMX-R, which includes transmitted and reflected light optics. Attached to the Leica is a SpotFlex camera, which produces publication-quality images, up to 64 megapixels, with true 24-bit color on each pixel (no Bayer mask).
Rock Preparation Laboratory
The LPI maintains a rock preparation laboratory to allow sample splitting and preparation of mounts for a variety of applications. The lab has a rock splitter, wafering saws, grinding and polishing wheels, a vacuum impregnation system, an ultrasonic bath, hot plates and an oven, a petrographic microscope, and binocular microscopes.
XSPACE (eXterrestrial SamPle, Analyses, Curation, and Exploration) Laboratory
The XSPACE Laboratory is a new facility dedicated to the classification and curation of meteorites. The Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society recognizes XSPACE as an official meteorite repository. Meteorite classification is led by scientists at the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES) of Johnson Space Center in partnership with scientists at the LPI.
Laboratory for the Astrobiological Exploration of Subsurface, Subaqueous, and Salty Environments (LASSSE)
LPI maintains a research staging and storage space that hosts –80°C and –20°C freezer units and a standard refrigerator and freezer for sample and consumables storage. This space also houses the growing Planetary and Astrobiology Analog Field Research Toolkit. This toolkit provides LASSSE team members and other LPI researchers the necessary tools to execute planetary and astrobiology-related field science successfully. Several of the major instruments are also capable of laboratory-based analyses (see below). Note: All equipment in the Field Research Toolkit is available to all LPI researchers for both field and lab-based analysis.
Spectral Evolution oreXpress portable Visible Near-Infrared Spectrometer
The oreXpress portable spectrometer has a spectral range of 350–2500 nm and a spectral resolution of 2.8 nm @350–1000 nm, 8 nm @1500 nm, and 6 nm @2100 m. The spectrometer has a handheld contact probe combined with a high signal-to-noise ratio and a portable handheld, sunlight-readable display to make in situ field analysis fast and efficient. The entire system fits into a specially designed backpack to make field deployment easy. The system at LPI also comes with a Benchtop Reflectance probe and powder sample holders to make the spectrometer capable of laboratory analyses.
Oxford Nanopore MinION portable DNA sequencers
The LPI has two MinION portable, real-time RNA and DNA sequencers that provide fast, powerful DNA/RNA sequencing capability in the field and the lab. The MinION supports several sequencing formats, including 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and other targeted sequencing, DNA Shotgun sequencing, RNA-Seq, etc. Current kits available at the LPI support long-read shotgun sequencing and rapid in-field DNA sequencing.
Qubit 4 Fluorometer for DNA, RNA, and Protein quantification
The Qubit 4 Fluorometer provides powerful and versatile quantification of RNA, DNA, and Proteins. At the LPI, the Qubit is currently used primarily for DNA quantification. The Qubit can detect DNA down to 10 pg/uL, protein concentrations down to12.5 ug/mL and it can also determine RNA and quality and concentration.
Chemetrics V3000 Multi-Analyte Water Photometer
The V3000 is a versatile and rugged field-portable Multi-Analyte Photometer that can also be used for laboratory-based analyses with the Power LabStation Adapter. The V3000 is designed to work with Chemetrics Vacu-Vials for over 40 analyses (e.g., sulfate, nitrate, alkalinity, etc.) and with independently programmed user methods.