Imperial College London

Mars mission veteran discusses next projects to red planet

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Professor Tom Pike discusses the next NASA missions to Mars and the technology he will be developing to equip them, in an audio interview.

Tom Pike, Professor of Microengineering at Imperial College London, was the only UK scientist to provide technology to help image and analyse Martian soil as part of NASA’s 2008 Phoenix Mission to Mars. The aim of the mission was to study the history of water and search for complex organic molecules in the ice-rich soil of the Martian arctic. A breakthrough from this mission included scientists being able to confirm for the first time that the arctic region of Mars had frozen water under its surface.

Now, Pike will provide components for a seismometer that will be used to detect tremors or marsquakes, to generate data about the inside of the planet and how it works. The mission is planned for 2016.

In 2020, NASA plans to send another rover to Mars, where it will travel across the surface looking for signs of past habitability. Pike has also been involved in constructing a mini oxygen making pilot plant, which will be deposited onto the planet surface as part of the mission. Creating oxygen will be vital for future explorations, to provide an in situ source of breathable air for explorers and a fuel for everyone to get back home.

Professor Tom Pike, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, talks to Colin Smith about his involvement in both missions, in the audio interview.

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Colin Smith

Colin Smith
Communications and Public Affairs

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