Asbestos Mine in Canada Doubles as Mars for Space Experiments

The Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, Canada is the last functional asbestos mine in the country. Over the summer, mine operators asked the provincial government for $58 million to renovate aging structures on the site. This request was not honored, but the ageing mine may have a new lease on life as a training ground for future Mars rover missions.

Scientists from the Canadian Space Agency, along with a number of noted scholars, have determined that the Jeffrey mine may be a good training ground for future rover missions which will determine the presence of methane on the planet.

The mine is an ideal location for this kind of training and for testing and gathering methane gas because methane is found in high quantities on the site. Rover tests seeking methane on Mars are an important step in learning whether the planet could support life, as water and methane are two classic signs of life.

To date, the Jeffrey mine has brought in more than $75 million for its use as a test site. Additional tests are in the plans for the mine, as well.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is valued for its heat resistance, strength, and low cost. Asbestos is also the only known cause of the deadly cancer mesothelioma, which strikes roughly 3,000 Americans each year.

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