Swiss electronics to help NASA Mars probe

The Insight lander is to drill into the surface of Mars and gather samples to help understand how the Red Planet was formed. Keystone

A seismometer controlled with Swiss-developed electronics will be on board when NASA’s “InSight” lander sets off on an exploration mission from California to Mars on May 5.

This content was published on May 4, 2018

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is the first mission dedicated to studying the rock structure of Mars. It is due to last two years – one Martian year – and aims to improve understanding of how rocky planets including Earth are formed and develop.

The aim is notably to determine whether the core of the Red Planet is solid or liquid and why its surface is not composed of moving tectonic plates like Earth.

The NASA probe will carry a seismic measuring instrument built under the lead of France together with Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, working with private industry, developed the electronic brain of the seismometer.  Thus Switzerland is “once again part of a space mission from which ground-breaking results are expected”, said a government press releaseExternal link.

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