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UK-built Mars instrument dons a protective sunhat

An international Mars mission has successfully reached its latest milestone and now the on-board instrument that will measure ‘Marsquakes’, and which was built by a UK team including STFC RAL Space, has gained a protective shield.

The NASA InSight lander is a mission to find out more about the Red Planet and how it originally formed by studying its quakes. The UK contributed a key on-board instrument, which RAL Space helped to develop.

The world celebrated when it successfully landed on the Red Planet in November last year. In the weeks since, the lander has been carefully placing the seismometer onto the planet’s surface. This seismometer will help to detect the vibrations or ‘Marsquakes’ from the planet, and has a package of sensors built by the UK, called SEIS-SP.

Now, with the seismometer in place, the lander has placed a protective cover over the equipment, to shield it from the extreme temperatures of space and to get more accurate readings.

Dr Rain Irshad, Autonomous Systems Group Leader at STFC RAL Space said: “I’m delighted that the SEIS-SP instrument has successfully been deployed and sheltered. We’re all now looking forward to collecting real science data from the inside of Mars.”

The InSight lander carries three instruments designed and built in the UK as part of the seismic package, supported by a £4million grant from the UK Space Agency. These microseismometer sensors were developed by Imperial College London and integrated with electronics built by the University of Oxford, supported by STFC RAL Space.

The next step for the mission is to place a probe on to the surface which will measure the planet’s temperature.

Find out more about the InSight mission and the instrument measuring 'Marsquakes'.


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