Mars > Research
Our research is centred on investigations of the dust, soil and rocks on Mars by various types of analytical science instruments and experiments onboard Mars landers and rovers. The main goal is to understand the geological evolution of Mars, especially the history of water, since water is necessary for the evolution and survival of life as we know it.
We design, build, test and calibrate instruments and magnetic properties experiments for lander missions to Mars, and we participate in the analysis and interpretation of data from the missions as well as in the publication of scientific results.
The Mars group contributes to three of the seven science instruments on NASA's upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission: the advanced cameras Mastcam-Z, the oxygen production experiment MOXIE, and SuperCam - a combined camera, laser and spectrometer.
On the currently (2016) ongoing Mars Science Laboratory mission the Mars group has actively participated in experiments and was furthermore, among other things, involved in the analysis of small rounded rocks at the Curiosity rover's landing site, leading to the discovery of ancient stream beds at the site.
For NASA's Mars 2020 mission we will deliver a radiometric calibration target for the advanced cameras Mastcam-Z, and we also contribute to the oxygen production experiment MOXIE, among other things...
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The Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity landed in 2012 in Gale crater on Mars and has since then shown that this location hosts environments which could have supported microbial life early in Mars' history.
We had magnetic properties experiments on the NASA missions Mars Phoenix Lander, a mission led by the University of Arizona, and on the Mars Exploration Rovers as well as the Mars Pathfinder Lander, all with several contributions from around the world.
In 2008 Phoenix was the first mission that provided conclusive evidence that there is water-ice in the subsurface on Mars, by identifying the melting and boiling points of water in soil samples in a small oven.
The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission consists of two identical rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on opposite sides of Mars in January 2004. The Opportunity rover is still operating in 2016.