Feeds

UK targets ExoMars mission with £1.7m funding package

Wants to be a leading player

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The UK's astronomy research funding body, PPARC, has earmarked £1.7m to develop technology that will seek out evidence of past or present life on Mars.

The cash, part of the UK's commitment to the European Aurora programme, will be split across nine projects to develop technology and instruments for the 2011 ExoMars mission, Europe's first solo mission to the red planet.

PPARC (Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council) says the money will be spent on furthering research in areas when the UK already has a proven track record. It aims to build on the knowledge gained from the ill-fated Beagle 2 mission, and the hugely successful Mars Express orbiter and Huygens probe.

Professor Keith Mason, PPARC's Chief Executive, said: "Mars Express has, and still is, delivering outstanding science from orbit around the Red Planet...but we have unfinished business on the surface. To really understand the mysteries of Mars we need ground-truth data and ExoMars will deliver that with the rover and base station".

UK researchers will use the money to put forward plans for a rover to explore the surface, a chip capable of identifying organic materials and a panoramic camera to map the planet in three dimensions. Other projects include a microseismometer to detect any Marsquakes, entry, descent and landing systems and a simulation to model parachute behaviour on Mars.

The remainder of the money will go to developing an atmospheric experiment package, and instruments to study the geology of the planet, and the type and amount of radiation reaching the surface.

Professor Mason says the funding will put UK teams in a strong position to win "leading roles" in the ExoMars mission itself. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.