SRC: Missions in Preparation

The Space Research Centre is involved in developing technology for the following missions in preparation.


ASTROSAT is India's first astronomy mission, due for launch in late 2012, and is expected to operate for five years.  The Space Research Centre has delivered  the X-ray telescope instrument to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for integration with the spacecraft.

Visit ASTROSAT's web page for more information.

The James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is planned for launch in 2018 as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It will use the visible and  near- to mid-infrared wavelengths to explore the objects in our Universe that formed shortly after the Big Bang.  It will also investigate the birth of stars, galaxy formation and the potential for life elsewhere.  JWST is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.


  MIRI in UoL clean room

The Space Research Centre designed and developed the mechanical support for the Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI).  Read more about JWST here.


ExoMars is a robotic mission developed by the European Space Agency, with two mission components - an orbiter and landing demonstrator for launch in 2016, and scientific rover for launch in 2018. Leicester has a strong involvement with this mission through the development of three key payloads, introduced below. 

More information about ExoMars is available from the ExoMars project website.

X-ray Diffraction Instrument

Calibration and testing of the Mars X-ray diffraction (XRD) technique is being conducted at the Space Research Centre. The group is investigating the instrument capability to identify the mineralogy of unknown rock and soil samples.

Life Marker Chip

The Life Marker Chip (LMC) has been designed to detect organic molecules deriving from past (extinct) or present (extant) life on Mars. This instrument will examine soil samples, collected by the Rover’s drill, and will run a series of tests to detect specific molecules that can be associated with life.

Raman Spectrometer

The Raman/Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (Raman/LIBS) instrument aims

  • to identify organic compounds and search for life
  • to identify the mineral products and indicators of biological activity
  • to characterise mineral phases produced by water related processes, and
  • to characterise igneous minerals and their alteration products


BepiColombo is one of ESA's cornerstone missions, and will provide the most complete exploration of Mercury to date. BepiColombo will help to reveal information on the composition and history of Mercury, answering questions about the formation of the inner solar system - including our own Earth.

Leicester is providing the Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument to the mission, a lightweight yet accurate payload enabled by in-house expertise in microchannel plate optics.

Visit BepiColumbo's project website here.

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