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July 30th, 2007
Swiss look for life on Mars
Scientists at Basel and Neuchâtel universities and a Swiss nanotechnology company are part of "Phoenix", Nasa's latest mission to Mars.
They will all be crossing their fingers on August 3 as the journey begins to the Red Planet's north pole, where the Lander will take soil samples and Swiss technology will help ascertain whether the surface ever contained water.
The Swiss contribution to the latest mission is an atomic force microscope (AFM), designed specifically for the tough conditions on Mars.
The microscope was built by nanoscience company Nanosurf, based in Liestal near Basel, and also by electronics expert Hans-Rudolf Hidber at the Basel Institute of Physics and nanotechnologist Urs Staufer at the Neuchâtel Institute of Microtechnology.
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