scisys_marsEarlier this month, SCISYS revealed they will be providing crucial software for the European Space Agency’s 2018 mission to Mars. The Chippenham-based software and services company announced the signature of a contract with Airbus Defence and Space on 18 September, authorising the delivery of  vehicle visual localisation flight software (“VISLOC”).

Dr. Horst Wulf, Divisional Director Space of SCISYS said: “This is an impressive result for SCISYS. Over the past years our Space Robotics team has gained significant experience and developed technical capabilities which are leading in Europe. This combined with our onboard software track record helped position ourselves to successfully compete for this contract.”

The contract is valued at €2m (roughly £1.56m), and SCISYS have also been given “highest priority” by programme sponsors, the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).

The 2018 mission has been scheduled as part of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars programme. SCISYS’ VISLOC software will play a critical role in investigating the Martian environment – launching, landing and operating a robotic rover ahead of a Mars sample return mission in the 2020s.

SciSys Project Manager Dr. Mark Woods said, “Our intention is to develop software that sits inside the European Mars Rover and acts as a surrogate for the science team back on Earth.

“We hope to significantly increase the amount of true ‘science time’ we have on the surface of Mars”


scisys solo rover

“Using information and models supplied by the team, the software will autonomously detect scientific targets and explore these without the need for detailed supervision from ground control. In this way we hope to significantly increase the amount of true ‘science time’ we have on the surface of Mars”.

CEO Klaus Heidrich added: “SCISYS feels tremendous pride in being able to contribute to this prestigious European mission to Mars. It furthermore demonstrates the UK’s leading position in robotics and fully justifies the investment the UK government is making in this domain.”

In partnership with the University of Oxford, SCISYS are currently overseeing field trials for CHAMELEON (pictured left), in the Atacama Desert. Dr Mark Woods explains that “The main objective of the CHAMELEON project is to conduct fundamental research on future technology solutions for sensing and autonomous navigation applied to extra-terrestrial exploration rovers”.

To keep up to date with SCISYS’ latest announcements, follow them on twitter @SCISYS_PLC.

Josh Ryall