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 Nanomicroscoscope is the fruit of scientific collaboration of the Institute of Microtechnology at the University of Neuchatel, 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 onboard 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 Howard, 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-specialist:
"Nobody else was able to contribute a similarly small, lightweight, and low-power system for this mission."