About the Mars Group at the Niels Bohr Institute – Københavns Universitet

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The Mars group at NBI

We are an experimental research group working with exploration of the Martian surface. An essential activity is our direct participation in experiments on Mars lander and rover missions for which we design and build various science instruments and experiments.


Jens Martin Knudsen (1930-2005). Photo by Ingrid Nakagawa Salinas.

The Mars group is part of the research group Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) and was originally established by Jens Martin Knudsen, together with Lise Vistisen and its current leader Morten Bo Madsen.


Our research is focused on investigations of the mineral composition of the soil, rocks and particularly the airborne dust on Mars. The main goal is to understand the geological evolution of Mars, especially the history of water, because water is necessary for the evolution and survival of life as we know it.

Participation in Mars missions

The Mars group participates in NASA's Mars 2020 mission, where we will deliver a complete radiometric calibration target for the advanced cameras Mastcam-Z, as well as essential parts for the calibration target for the science instrument SuperCam. On the 2020 mission we also work on characterization of Martian airborne dust in relation to its influence on the oxygen production experiment MOXIE.

Furthermore we participate in NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission and its rover Curiosity. In addition, our group has had magnetic experiments onboard the following missions:

The Viking Landers (1976) also had permanent magnets onboard and so has the Mars Science Laboratory (2012), which means that all successful lander missions to Mars so far have had magnetic properties experiments, or at least magnets, onboard.