NASA selects UK seismometer for new Mars mission
A UK-built seismometer designed to investigate the interior structure and processes of Mars has been selected to travel to the Red Planet on NASA's newly announced InSight mission.
Developed by a team from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, with funding from the UK Space Agency, the instrument will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars to investigate why, as one of our solar system's rocky planets, the Red Planet evolved so differently from Earth.
The seismometer will listen for 'marsquakes' and use this information to map the boundaries between the rock layers inside Earth's neighbour. This will help determine if the planet has a liquid or solid core, and provide some clues as to why its surface is not divided up into tectonic plates as on Earth.
Dr Tom Pike, principal investigator for the UK seismometer from the department of electrical and electronic engineering at Imperial College London, said: "We are delighted to be playing a key part in a mission which will deliver groundbreaking science and technology; InSight will be the first mission to look at the deep interior of another planet. To fully understand how a planet has evolved, and what processes are still active today, requires knowledge of its deep structure. This in turn tells us how much the interior, surface and atmosphere of Mars have interacted over its history, with important implications for the possibility of life early in its evolution."
The InSight spacecraft will be a static lander that will carry four instruments. The UK SEIS-SP is one of two seismometers that make up the SEIS instrument. There will also be two cameras and a robotic arm; a sensor that will accurately determine the degree to which the planet wobbles on its axis; and a probe that will be pushed into the planet's surface to reveal how the planet is cooling.
All the data combined will inform researchers about the internal state of Mars today and how it has changed through the aeons. The mission is scheduled for 2016.
This material is protected by Findlay Media copyright
See Terms and Conditions.
One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not.
For multiple copies contact the