Cyprus rocky testing ground for Mars mission

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International scientists and Cypriot experts have discussed a research project to test space equipment on the island before sending it to Mars to measure the age of its rocks.

Scientists are in Cyprus to test space equipment in the rugged Troodos mountains as it has geological similarities with the red planet.

Planetologists and geologists arrived in Cyprus earlier this month to test out the equipment which will measure the exact age of rocks on Mars.

The Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO), and the Geological Surveys Department had their first meeting Friday to coordinate efforts in this European Commission-funded project.

“The meeting discussed the objectives of the international space program, the geological needs and the most suitable locations for the project were evaluated,” said a statement from the government’s Geological Department.

It called the rock-measuring project “very innovative since there are no previous accurate measurements of the age of the rocks of Mars from previous missions”.

“The geology of the Troodos Mountains has a lot in common with the rocks of Mars, which is why CSEO invited these foreign scientists to Cyprus.”

“The goal is to make sure that Troodos’s geology has locations similar to Mars so that space equipment planned to be sent to Mars could be tested first in Troodos,” the department said.

Acting director of the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, Christodoulos Hadjigeorgiou said Friday’s meeting went well with the local know-how of the landscape offered to international scientists.

The CSEO is taking part in a major international research project on Mars, in collaboration with three other European countries as well as the US.

CSEO head George Danos said the space project “highlights once again the uniqueness of our country’s geology, which can help prepare space missions to other celestial bodies”.

“Through this cooperation, we will create new jobs for scientists in our country and new research projects in collaboration with international space agencies,” he added.