25 June 2012
Investigating the history of Martian rocks and soil, and looking for signs of past or present life in rocks from the red planet, are two areas of research at Imperial that have received funding this month from the UK Space Agency.
Professor Gupta is a participating scientist in NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is due to land on the red planet on 6 August 2012. The mission aims to collect vital data about ancient environments on Mars and their viability for harbouring life, together with information about Mars’s past climates.
Professor Sephton has received funding to carry out preliminary research for the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Mission, which is due to touch down on Mars in 2018. He and his colleagues will carry out a mock mission in a lab at Imperial, mimicking the conditions on the Martian surface to test the Life Marker Chip, which will be used to detect signs of past or present life in rocks on Mars.
Professor Jan Cilliers, Head of the Department, said: “Imperial has been at the frontier of space research for many decades, with leading research on meteorites, asteroids and comet dust. It is great to see Mark and Sanjeev involved in these two significant missions to Mars, which will teach us more about its climate and its potential for harbouring life.”
— Colin Smith, Communications and Development