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OU collaborates with Russian Space Research Institute on space missions

Space scientists in STEM have entered into a new collaboration agreement with colleagues within the Space Research Institute (IKI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The collaboration will see researchers cooperate on instruments they are building for upcoming missions to the Moon and to Mars.

The Luna-27 Moon mission is Russian-led and in cooperation with the European Space Agency will make a precision landing at the Moon’s south pole. Its scientific payload will study this unique environment that recent orbital missions suggest could contain vast quantities of water ice “cold trapped” by surface temperatures that are amongst the lowest in our Solar System. Instruments will detect and analyse the scientific treasure trove of materials that has accumulated in this deep freeze over billions or years. This will also allow the researchers to assess the prospect of extracting water from the Moon’s surface, which could be a key to enabling new manned lunar missions and establishing bases for long-term exploration of the Moon and beyond.

Simeon Barber said “It is a privilege to collaborate with IKI on the exploration of these previously unvisited places on the Moon, and to be building upon the many successes of the Luna missions which date back to the earliest days of space exploration.”

He added “we will also work with Dr Mikhail Gerasimov of IKI to develop a mass spectrometer for analysing the trace gas composition of the Mars atmosphere on the ExoMars 2020 lander”. This instrument will utilise the OU’s technology and know-how from the Ptolemy instrument which made the first in-situ measurements of the chemical composition of a comet on board the Rosetta Philae lander in 2014.

The excitement and interest generated by such high profile projects is a powerful marketing proposition and helps to put OU’s research at the heart of the Students First agenda. Previous efforts in the area of space exploration have led to inclusion of relevant materials in the OU’s current and future curriculum (eg Rosetta in S818, the MSc in Space Science and Technology, and ExoMars in the level 1 undergraduate module, SM123, Physics and Space). Progress with the missions may be followed through the web site and on social media through @spacelabslive.

Dr Simeon James Barber

Senior Manager (Space Research & Enterprise)

School of Physical Sciences

Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Professional biography