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Life on Mars: University of Leicester to detect clues for alien existence
Date:6/2/2010

A development model of the Mars Rover, called Bridget, was on display at the University today- Friday June 4- providing invited schoolchildren as well as staff and students with an exciting glimpse into the shape of things to come.

The event coincides with celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of space research at the University of Leicester.

Scientists from the University of Leicester are involved in five instruments on board the ExoMars mission, including building the hardware for three of the instruments on board the craft. The ExoMars mission is one of the key missions under the remit of the newly formed UK Space Agency.

ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars) is a European-led robotic mission to Mars, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. It is part of ESA's Aurora programme for robotic exploration of the Solar System and its aim is to further characterise the chemical, geological and possible biological environment on Mars in preparation for robotic missions and then human exploration. Data from the mission will also provide invaluable input for broader studies of exobiology - the search for life on other planets.

The mission to Mars also has enormous Earth-bound applications with spin-offs in collaboration with industry bringing environmental benefits as well as technologies that can be applied in the fields of health and crime detection.

Professor Sims said: "ExoMars is a key mission in exploration of the planet Mars. It will attempt to gather samples from a depth 1-2m below the surface where they are protected from radiation and oxidants thought to exist on the surface both of which would destroy/heavily degrade complex organic compounds.

"The mission gives the University, and the Space Research Centre(SRC) team in particular, the opportunity to explore the chemistry and mineralogy of Mars as well as look at the possibility of life on Mars in the distant past, or even today, and at the
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Contact: Ather Mirza
pressoffice@le.ac.uk
01-162-523-335
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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