Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010
Robot scientist's parliament trip
Stephen Pugh
Strphen Pugh's research focuses on the operation of the Mars rover's on-board cameras

Research by an Aberystwyth University academic on a camera-snapping robot destined to travel to Mars is to be showcased at the Palace of Westminster.

Stephen Pugh from the Department of Computer Science has been selected to take part in the 2010 SET for Britain competition.

On Monday 8 March, he will present findings of the research he's carrying out for the ExoMars Programme.

The €1 Bn project is led by the European Space Agency (ESA).

I have been looking in particular at how the robotic rover can point its cameras at specific targets such as rocks without human intervention
Stephen Pugh

The SET for Britain competition and poster exhibition was established in 1997 to draw MPs' attention to the work of early-stage and early-career research scientists, engineers and technologists.

Prizes are awarded for the best scientific posters, including the Wharton Medal awarded in memory of the late Dr Eric Wharton who founded the event.


Establishing if life ever existed on Mars is one of the outstanding scientific questions of our time.

To address this poser, the ESA, in co-operation with NASA, has established the ExoMars Programme to investigate the Martian environment and to demonstrate new technologies paving the way for a future Mars sample return mission in the 2020's.

Two missions are foreseen within the ExoMars programme, one consisting of an Orbiter plus an entry, descent and landing demonstrator (to be launched in 2016) and the other, with a launch date of 2018, consisting of two rovers. Both missions will be carried out in co-operation with NASA.

"As part of the ExoMars mission, a robotic planetary rover will be sent to Mars in 2018 and my research focuses on the operation of the rover's on-board cameras," said Mr Pugh.


"I have been looking in particular at how the robotic rover can point its cameras at specific targets such as rocks without human intervention.

"The second aspect of my research has involved assessing how the images taken by the robotic system can be sent back to Earth in the shortest time possible.

"We should now be able to send these pictures back within one day rather than three days, giving us vital information about the rover's surroundings in what is a very unknown environment."

Professor Dave Barnes, Head of Space Robotics at Aberystwyth University, said: "This is a prestigious UK competition and selection is made on the basis of the very best research work.

"I am delighted that Stephen has been selected to display his work at the House of Commons."

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16 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
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