The UK Space Agency is collaborating with several space agencies around the world on joint exploration missions to the International Space Station, the Moon and to Mars. Here in the UK, scientists and space industry are contributing to these missions in lots of ways, including building some of the rovers, probes and the scientific instruments they carry.

On this page you can discover more about Mars and some of the incredible missions that the UK is working on. You will also find lots of resources like activities, information packs, videos, profiles on real people involved in the missions and information to help you if you are interested in a space career! The information and resources on this page are suitable for teachers, parents, students, STEM ambassadors, STEM clubs and anyone leading groups. Perhaps you will one day work on a mission to Mars!

NASA Perseverance Rover

UK Space Agency Perseverance Film

The UK Space Agency partnered with the artist Luke Jerram, who has created a 7-metre artwork of Mars, similar to his incredible Museum of the Moon and Gaia artworks that 9 million people have seen round the world! The Mars artwork was suspended in the archway of Hinze Hall in the Natural History Museum, where scientists will be analysing samples collected by the Perseverance Rover, which the Sample Fetch Rover will help to return to Earth in 2030. Perseverance is searching for the markers of life so it is amazing to see Mars in the home of the history of all life on Earth.

The UK Space Agency asked Ellie Sleightholm, a student studying mathematics and very keen to one day have a space career, to pose questions to Luke Jerram and the engineers and scientists involved in Perseverance and other Mars missions. Watch the film to discover what she found out about the missions, why we want to explore the Solar System, what the people involved studied and what the future might hold for space exploration. Ellie also asked about how they chose their careers and what new space jobs might need to exist in the future. More detailed profiles on the people in the film can be found in the downloadable resources that accompany the film.

3D computer visualisation of the NASA Perseverance Rover on Mars

Key points:

Mission name
Mars 2020
Space agency
NASA
Rover name
Perseverance
Built by
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Objective
Seek signs of ancient life and collect samples
Launched
30 July 2020
Landed
18 February 2021
Landing site
Jezero Crater, Mars

Perseverance resources

Supporting resources to the film:

  • A downloadable version of the film
  • Downloadable PDF supporting sheets featuring:
    • Information on the Mars artwork
    • Information on the Perseverance mission
    • Activities and discovery ideas
    • Profiles on the scientists and engineers in the film
    • Links to space career information and more

View resources

ESA ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover

ExoMars

The ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover has been named after the famous scientist who discovered of the structure of DNA, one of the fundamental building blocks of life. Her discovery helped us understand life on Earth and now the rover named after her will be searching for signs of life on Mars!

The rover was built in the UK by Airbus, with many different people with different jobs contributing to the mission. While there are engineers and scientists working on the ExoMars mission, there are so many other people that are vital to making a space mission successful. There are project managers, people who build websites and help inform the world about the mission, people who run and manage the complex buildings needed, experts in materials, computer and software experts, data analysts and so much more.

Perhaps you could be part of a future mission and, just like Rosalind Franklin, help to discover and understand more about our Solar System and beyond!

3D computer visualisation of the ESA ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover on Mars

Key points:

Mission name
ExoMars
Space agency
ESA and Roscosmos
Rover name
Rosalind Franklin
Built by
Airbus UK
Objective
Seek signs of ancient life, using a 2m drill
Launch
September 2022
Landing
June 2023
Landing site
Oxia Planum region, Mars

Sample Fetch Rover - Mars Sample Return

Mars Sample Return

Airbus UK will be building the Sample Fetch Rover as part of the Mars Sample Return Mission. This mission will try to gather the samples that the NASA Perseverance rover will have collected and then launch them back to Earth so that they can be studied here. Scientists on Earth can analyse the samples in much more detail than any analysis the rover can do remotely on Mars.

The complex mission involves several different vehicles to collect the samples, launch them from the surface of Mars, rendezvous in Mars orbit and transfer the samples, transit to Earth and finally safely land the samples in 2030.

NASA’s Perseverance rover has carried a meteorite that originated on Mars back to the red planet. The meteorite was held at the Natural History Museum and will be used to calibrate one of the instruments on the rover. Scientists at the museum will hopefully analyse the samples that return to Earth in 2030. Exploration missions can take may years to achieve and new people are needed to take on where others have left. Perhaps one of those people could be you!

3D computer visualisation of the ESA Sample Fetch Rover on Mars

Key points:

Mission name
Mars Sample Return
Space agency
ESA
Rover name
Sample Fetch Rover
Built by
Airbus UK
Objective
Collect samples gathered by Perseverance and return to Earth
Launch
2026
Landing
2028
Landing site
Jezero Crater, Mars
Multi-mission route to collect samples in 2020, launch them into Mars orbit, and return the samples back to Earth in 2030.

Resources

Featured resources

  • Mars Challenge

    “Unplugged” computing resources.

    Primary and secondary

    Find out more

  • Go to Mars with Explorify

    Primary science activities.

    Primary

    Find out more

  • Roving with Rosalind

    Mars mission activities for the classroom.

    Primary and secondary

    Find out more

  • Perseverance Film resources

    Teaching resources linked to the UKSA film.
     

    Primary and secondary

    Find out more

  • Abbie Hutty – Career profile

    Meet Abbie, the ExoMars Delivery Manager.
     

    Primary and secondary

    Find out more

  • UK Space Agency resources

    A range of space related education resources.

    Primary and secondary

    Find out more

All teaching resources