Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois had an opportunity to experience the Martian surface when he paid a recent visit to the Airbus Defence and Space factory in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
The company, who build communication and other satellites for a variety of clients around the world, have also been contracted to build the Mars Rover exploration vehicle, which will be sent to Mars as part of a European space mission in 2020. To help test the Rover in realistic conditions, the company have established a mock-up of the Martian landscape in a warehouse on their site.
As part of his tour of the facility, Mark was shown the Mars Rover prototype, which is designed to carry out a variety of experiments on the Red Planet, including to search for any signs of past life, which some scientists believe may have existed millions of years ago. Other experiments will also try and ascertain what happened to the atmosphere on Mars, as a guide to combatting climate change back here on earth.
Commenting on his visit to this important scientific facility, Mark said:
“Airbus Defence and Space build a variety of satellites for both civil and military purposes, including the UK’s range of Skynet Communication Satellites, which enable our military to communicate with Britain from anywhere around the world. They also build the very exciting Mars Rover project which I was privileged to see while I was there. It is good to know that we have a company producing such high-tech equipment in Britain for use around the world and now in space.”