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UK seismometer boosts US Mars trip

Discussion in 'Tech, Gadgets & Science Forum' started by Makanyaga, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Makanyaga

    Makanyaga JF-Expert Member

    Aug 29, 2012
    Joined: Sep 28, 2007
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    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 itself 16 feet below the planet's surface. The probe will record how much heat is coming from the Martian interior.
    InSight will also carry two cameras and a robot arm, but will not have the ability to move like the rover Curiosity that is now exploring a Martian crater.
    Dr Tom Pike, from 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."
    InSight deputy project scientist Sue Smrekar, from Nasa's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, said: "Getting well below the surface gets us away from the Sun's influence and allows us to measure heat coming from the interior.
    "InSight is going take heartbeat and vital signs of the red planet for an entire Martian year, two Earth years. We are really going to have an opportunity to understand the processes that control the early planetary formation."

    Source: UK seismometer boosts US Mars trip - Yahoo! News UK