UK scientists to study quakes on Mars after launch of space rocket

Posted 10 months ago by Sandeep Bhattarai

UK scientists to study quakes on Mars after launch of space rocket

Research by university scientists in Britain to study Marsquakes on the Red Planet was given a boost Saturday with the lift off of a space rocket from California.

The new mission will be the first to study the heart of the Red Planet and measure “Marsquakes” from its surface.The NASA mission, InSight, was successfully launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California.

The InSight Lander will use cutting-edge instruments to delve beneath the surface and investigate the interior of Mars to improve understanding of how such planets formed. It will also study tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, both of which could provide valuable knowledge about these events on Earth.

The UK Space Agency has invested 5.5 million U.S. dollars in one of the key instruments onboard to measure seismic waves from Marsquakes. Scientists expect to detect anywhere between a dozen and a hundred of the tremors up to 6.0 on the Richter scale over the course of two years.

British government Sam Gyimah said: “The UK is playing an important role in this exciting mission to unlock the deepest secrets of our nearest neighbor in the solar system.

“An instrument that started life in a London university laboratory will end it on the surface of Mars detecting quakes and meteor strikes for the first time. It’s a great example of the importance of international collaboration and our work with the space sector as part of our Industrial Strategy, to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of pioneering science and exploration.”

Prof Tom Pike from Imperial College London is leading a team with Dr Simon Calcutt from Oxford University.
Pike said: “It’s been enormously challenging to put together such a small sensor with the performance we need to detect Marsquakes.

“We’ve had the support of the UK Space Agency and now we finally get to see our micro seismometers leave the launch pad, next stop Mars.”

The spacecraft is due to arrive on the surface of Mars on November 26. The mission will conduct six science investigations on and below the surface of Mars to uncover the evolutionary history that shaped all of the rocky planets in the inner solar system.

The UK instrument will work together with seismometers from France, as well as major contributions from Switzerland, Germany and the U.S.

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