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Uploaded on Jun 8, 2010
Professor Mark Sims talks about University of Leicester's involvement in the ExoMars mission due to launch in 2018. ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars) is a European-led robotic mission to Mars, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. It is part of ESA's Aurora programme for robotic exploration of the Solar System and its aim is to further characterise the chemical, geological and possible biological environment on Mars in preparation for robotic missions and then human exploration. Data from the mission will also provide invaluable input for broader studies of exobiology - the search for life on other planets.
Scientists from the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester are involved in five instruments on board the ExoMars mission, including building the hardware for three of the instruments on board the craft.
1. The Life Marker Chip (LMC): Professor Mark Sims, from the University of Leicester, is Principal Investigator leading the international team. The aim of the instrument is to look for organic molecules that might be associated with life, or meteoritic infall of organics onto the surface.
2. X-ray Diffraction Instrument (XRD): Dr Richard Ambrosi from the University of Leicester is leading the team to build the X-ray CCD based focal plane of this instrument in conjunction with Ian Hutchinson. The instrument is led by Italy and looks at mineralogy and elemental composition of the regolith (soil) and rocks.
3. Raman: Dr Ian Hutchinson of the University of Leicester is leading a team to build the optical CCD-based focal plane of this instrument. The instrument as a whole is led by Spain. Its aim is to look at mineralogy and possibly detect organics (dependent on their concentration) of the regolith (soil) and rocks.