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Satnews Daily
March 23rd, 2015

More Than One-And-A-Half Million Pounds In Funding By UK Space Agency

[SatNews] The UK Space Agency has announced that seven proposals have been awarded funding, totaling £1.67 million, for research related to ESA’s planetary exploration program.

A high volume of bids of an excellent standard were received, highlighting the diverse and skilled nature of the UK’s internationally recognised planetary science. The successful applicants include Prof. Andrew Coates (MSSL), Dr. Susan Conway (The Open University), Dr. Kerri Donaldson-Hanna (Oxford University), Prof. Sanjeev Gupta (Imperial College), Prof. Mark Sephton (Imperial College), Prof. Tom Pike (Imperial College) and Dr. Nick Teanby (University of Bristol).

Dr. Susan Conway at the Open University said, "I am delighted to receive an Aurora Fellowship from the UK Space Agency and I am particularly looking forward to taking an active role in the ESA TGO and the NASA InSight missions to Mars. With so many missions in the pipeline it is an exciting time to be working in planetary science and it’s great to be in the thick of it. This fellowship will give me the chance to study some of the most fascinating active surface processes on Mars with some of the newest orbital and landed instruments."

Professor Mark Sephton of Imperial College said, "The search for life on Mars is being hampered by minerals. The most common way to extract life’s remains from rock is to tease them out with heat. However, when Mars rocks are heated they react with organic matter and destroy potential evidence of alien biology. The funding from the UK Space Agency will allow development of workaround solutions to the problems posed by minerals on Mars. With the right experiments and the understanding they provide, any records of alien life on the red planet will become accessible."

The Aurora Science Review Panel was as follows: Dr. Richard Ambrosi (University of Leicester), Dr. Pete Grindrod (University College London), Prof. David Rothery (Open University), Prof. Sara Russell (Natural History Museum), and was Chaired by Prof. Fred Taylor (University of Oxford).

Details of successful proposals are as follows: