About the Facility

APL’s Simulated Airless Body Emission Laboratory (SABEL) provides a unique capability to study geologic materials in environments relevant to the most abundant class of planetary objects: airless bodies. In these environments, the fine, dustlike particulates that make up the outermost planetary surface emit thermal infrared light in ways that are fundamentally different from terrestrial environments, such as Earth or Mars. SABEL simulates the space environment using a vacuum chamber and liquid-nitrogen-cooled shrouds. Particulate samples are heated using a solarlike lamp, and their thermal emission is measured using a broadband spectrometer. In SABEL, we measure samples as simple as pure minerals and as complex as lunar soils returned by the Apollo missions. As we better understand these materials in the lab, we can design better instruments to measure the materials on airless bodies.