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Key role for Spain in 2020 Mars mission technology
14 October 2019 @ 12:43

SPANISH-MADE technology will be used for the next mission to Mars, planned for 2020, in what will be a huge year for national science – especially for researchers based in Valladolid (Castilla y León).

Two unmanned missions – one by NASA and another by the European Space Agency (ESA) will set off for the red planet next year from around July, and will take about seven or eight months to complete, using a monitored crewless craft which will analyse the surface of Mars in depth.

The idea is to see whether it could ever have been inhabited at any time, or if it could potentially house life.

Spain's rôle will be significant – enough to put it on the world science map, according to Dr Fernando Rull, retired dean of Valladolid University and founder of the Raman Applied Cosmogeochemical and Astrobiological Infrared Spectroscope (ERICA).

He has come out of retirement to join the team, and his star invention will play a major part.

ERICA's participation will involve creating calibration cards that form part of the SuperCam built into the space vehicle – a task that has already taken three years to develop.

The SuperCam allows for highly-detailed analysis of the planet's surface in a very simple operation.

Spain's part in the ESA mission will involve creating a spectometer to examine material found beneath the planet's crust in a bid to seek out possible traces of life.

For the NASA mission, the project carried out in Valladolid started between the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 when Dr Rull approached two US operations with his ideas, and a contract was signed in 2015 to the value of around US$2 billion (about €1.81bn).

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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