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Posted: May 28, 2008
Phoenix Lands on Mars: Swiss Atomic Force Microscope Helps Explore Mars Environment
(Nanowerk News) NASA's Phoenix Lander has successfully touched down in the northern polar region of Mars. One of the instruments on board the Phoenix Mars Mission is a Swiss atomic force microscope designed to investigate Martian soil samples for possible traces of ice.
This Nano-microscope is the fruit of scientific collaboration of the Institute of Microtechnology at the University of Neuchâtel, the Institute of Physics at the University of Basel, and Nanosurf AG in Liestal. The goal of the Phoenix Mission is to answer important questions such as whether water exists in forms that support life. All on board instruments are checked for functionality during the first few days after a successful landing, following which the first measurement data will be transmitted to Earth.
For Lukas Howald, physicist and co-founder of Nanosurf, the choice of Nanosurf as project partner for the Mars expedition confirms the world-class abilities of Swiss nano-specialists: "Nobody else was able to contribute a similarly small, lightweight, and low-power system for this mission."
Nanosurf AG, maker and technological world market leader for user-friendly and automated nano-microscopes for surface visualization, counts about 30 employees in Liestal.
Official Homepage of NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/phoenix/main/index.html