UCL News


UCL MSSL stars at Royal Society exhibition

19 June 2008


Exomars org/events/summer-science-exhibition/" target="_self">Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
  • UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory
  • ExoMars project

  • A key UCL space science project will be at the centre of the prestigious Summer Exhibition at The Royal Society.

    It's a new optical system that has been developed by the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL MSSL) for the European Space Agency's (ESA) 'ExoMars' Mars mission, due for launch in 2013.

    Professor Andrew Coates coordinates the UCL MSSL team. He says: "When the descent module touches down on the Martian surface, it will deploy a rover vehicle.

    "Our panoramic camera (PanCam) will enable the rover to accurately analyse the surface geology and, crucially, search for signs of life, thanks to an ultraviolet light and instruments that can detect organic molecules.

    "Because the separation of the lenses is wider than a human's, the rover will have better stereo than a human uses to navigate."

    The PanCam instrument consists of two high-resolution, wide-angle cameras, which will provide multi-spectral stereo images with a 34° field of view and monoscopic 'zoom' images with a 5° field of view.

    Scientific goals include fulfilling the digital terrain mapping requirements of the mission as well as providing geological imaging, colour and stereo panoramic imaging, water vapour abundance and dust optical depth measurements.

    Faculty and students from UCL MSSL have been working alongside fellow scientists and engineers from the universities of Leicester and Aberystwyth, the National Space Centre and Astrium Ltd, the company part-owned by BAE Systems.

    There will be hands-on demonstrations of the PanCam in operation at the Summer Exhibition, with simulated scans and analyses of geological material. Visitors will be able to explore the experiments and take part in a survey on manned versus unmanned exploration.

    The 2008 Summer Science Exhibition will take place from Monday 30th June -Thursday 3rd July. You can find The Royal Society at 6-9 Carlton Terrace House, London, SW1. Entrance to the Exhibition is free.


    Based in Surrey, the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory is the UK's largest university space research group. UCL MSSL is within UCL Space & Climate Physics - UCL was one of the first universities in the world to conduct space research. UCL MSSL has participated in 35 satellite missions and over 200 rocket missions since its establishment.

    UCL people involved in the exhibition (*=manning stand part of the time)
    Prof Andrew Coates, UCL MSSL, PanCam team coordinator (co-exhibitor)*
    Dr Andrew Griffiths, UCL MSSL, PanCam project manager*
    Marta Entradas - PhD student, UCL Science & Technology studies, involved in survey*
    Claire Cousins, PhD student, UCL Earth Sciences, experiments relevant to eventual
    filter selection
    Sheila Kanani, PhD student, UCL MSSL*
    Anne Wellbrock, PhD student, UCL MSSL*

    For further details on the project and the full programme of Summer Exhibition events, please use the link at the top of this article.

    Image: Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover, courtesy of ESA