Portuguese robot for Mars

PORTUGUESE physicists at the Planetary and Environmental Land Studies Centre in Versailles, Paris, could soon be involved in a project to develop a vehicle capable of carrying out scientific tasks on the surface of Mars.

The Portuguese team, lead by physicist Fernando Simões, has applied to develop a scientific robotic instrument for ExoMars, which will be taken by the European Space Agency on the next voyage to Mars in 10 years time.

The team, which is in the running to develop the instrument called Subsurface Permittivity Probe (SP2) against stiff international competition, will require a grant of two million euros over eight years, partly from the Portuguese government, to construct, test and then analyse the data from the mobile robot whose mission will last 180 days on Mars.

“We signed up for the project some months ago with the Science and Technology Foundation and we’re waiting to hear the result,” said Fernando Simões, the chief investigator of the project.

The mission to Mars will be launched in 2013 and the ExoMars is scheduled to arrive on Martian soil on 2015.

The robotic probe will be responsible for collecting organic molecules and other indications of life.

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