Exploring the Surface on Mars
Norwegian technology contributes to the search for water and life on Mars.
October 3, 2023
Radar Imager for Mars Subsurface Exploration (Rimfax) is a ground radar enabling us to look at the geological layers beneath the surface of Mars. Rimfax is installed on NASA's rover Perseverance, which has been searching for signs of water and life on Mars since 2020.
Perseverance collects samples from both the surface and the atmosphere of our red neighboring planet. These samples will be sent back to Earth by spacecraft arriving on Mars. Perseverance is equipped with a drill and various instruments for collecting and analyzing surface samples on Mars. To investigate subsurface layers and search for pockets of ice or water, Perseverance utilizes the Norwegian ground radar Rimfax.
Rimfax was developed by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (Forsvarets forskningsinstitutt, FFI). The development of Rimfax began in 2014 after being selected by NASA, and it was led by Svein-Erik Hamran, who was the research director at FFI at the time.
Today, the work related to Rimfax on Mars is coordinated from the Center for Space Sensors and Systems (Senter for romsensorer og -systemer, CENSSS) at the Department of Technology Systems at the University of Oslo in Kjeller. Researchers here maintain daily contact and collaboration with NASA and the scientists working on the other instruments on Perseverance.
The development of the Norwegian ground radar on Mars received support, including funding from the Norwegian Space Agency and ESA's Prodex program.
Rimfax is the first Norwegian payload to land on Mars.