The Exploration of the Earth Subsurface as a Martian Analogue

Valentina Marcheselli


Abstract: This paper describes the conceptual effort and scientific practices though which space analogues – i.e. material settings in which one or more analogies between Earth and outer space are embedded – are built, sustained and experienced. Based on my ethnographic study of astrobiologists’ and speleologists’ analogue fieldwork activities in Sardinian subsurface environments, I claim that analogues are part of the process of making astrobiology as a discipline: they do not only constitute fundamental heuristics to understand Earthly – and perhaps one day extra-terrestrial – life, but they also reframe disciplinary boundaries and imagined futures on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe.

Keywords: extreme environment; space analogues; astrobiology; scientific fieldwork.

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