Mission to study the 'heart' of Mars

Posted on 18 May 2018 and read 748 times
Mission to study the 'heart' of MarsA new mission to Mars involving UK science will be the first to study the ‘heart’ of the Red Planet and measure ‘Mars-quakes’ from its surface.

The NASA InSight mission, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, was launched on 5 May from California aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket

A project spokesman said the InSight Lander will use “cutting-edge instruments to delve beneath the surface and investigate the interior of Mars to improve our understanding of how such planets formed.

“It will also study tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, both of which could provide valuable knowledge about these events on Earth”.

The UK Space Agency has invested £4 million in one of the key instruments onboard — the short-period Seismometer (SEIS-SP). This will be on the surface of Mars to measure seismic waves from Mars-quakes.

Scientists expect to detect anywhere between a dozen and 100 of these tremors — up to 6.0 on the Richter scale — over the course of two years.

The spacecraft is due to arrive on the surface of Mars on 26 November; it will undertake six science investigations on and below the surface to uncover the evolutionary history that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.

The UK instrument will work together with seismometers from France, as well as equipment from Switzerland,
Germany and the USA.

The UK space sector is playing a leading role in efforts to explore the solar system, with collaborative projects that include the ExoMars mission; this will search for evidence of life on Mars using a rover on the surface and
a spacecraft in orbit above it.

The rover is being designed and built in Britain by Airbus and is scheduled for launch in 2020.

The UK Space Agency, the University of Leicester and Airbus are also involved in a mission to Mercury (the closest planet to the Sun) later this year.

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