British technology to play key part in Mars mission
BRITISH technology will play a key role in a new American Mars mission to delve under the skin of the red planet.
Scientists from Imperial College London and Oxford University are supplying a seismometer that will listen for “marsquakes”.
The instrument, carried by the InSight lander, will help determine if Mars has a solid or liquid core.
It will also provide clues as to why the planet’s crust is not made up of tectonic plates as on Earth.
InSight is due to be launched by the American space agency Nasa in 2016.
After landing on Mars, the craft will deploy a thermal probe called the “tractor mole” that will drive 16 feet below the planet’s surface. The probe will record how much heat is coming from the Martian interior.
Dr Tom Pike, from Imperial College London, said: “We are delighted to be playing a key part in a mission which will deliver ground-breaking 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.”
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