A scientist from the University of Leeds is travelling to Norway to test space equipment and techniques that will help to search for life on Mars.
Parts of the Svalbard archipelago have a similar geology to Mars
Reader of geo-biology Dr Liane Benning is the only scientist from the UK to be involved in the Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition (AMASE).
The team will be testing equipment on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen for use on a NASA mission to Mars in 2011.
The remote location is said to have a similar geology to the red planet.
"It is the closest we know from its geology, from its atmosphere and from what we know about its history, which is potentially very similar to what we see on earth today," said Dr Benning.
"We don't know if there's life on Mars, but we are developing technologies to try and go and actually look for it."
Previous expeditions have found signs of a microbial community within the ice on Spitsbergen, in Svalbard, supporting the theory that life could be sustained on Mars, she said.
Now the team are hoping to develop techniques to find any signs of carbon or bacteria.
Previous trips have found signs of a microbial community in the ice
Dr Benning will be joined by scientists from Norway and the US on the expedition.
A NASA astronaut in training will also be on hand to test his space suit and the testing procedures.
One of the main aims is to develop methods that will ensure no contamination from earth when the rovers are sent to Mars, said Br Benning.
Further in the future, scientists also hope it will be possible to collect samples from the planet.
"The challenge to actually bring a rover to Mars with the equipment, make it work for a long time is already a big feat," said Dr Benning.
"But to bring a sample back is something that is in the schedule for something like 2030 and we also look forward to sending people there."