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July
Hong Kong-made space tools on display

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A replica of the Hong Kong-developed Mars Rock Grinder/Corer, the first tool to drill into the surface of Mars, will be displayed from tomorrow (August 1) until August 31.

The replica is part of an exhibition, "Mars Express - Contribution from Hong Kong", at the Hong Kong Space Museum. It will also feature replicas of the Beagle 2 lander, which carried the rock grinder/corer to Mars, and a number of space tools developed by Hong Kong scientists and engineers. All exhibits are on loan from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

The exhibition covers Mars Express, the first planetary mission of the European Space Agency, and the development of the Mars Rock Grinder/Corer and its important role in the study of exobiology - the search for the origins of life on Earth, and in the Universe.

Mars Express was launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan by a Soyez-Fregat launcher on June 3 and is expected to arrive at Mars around Christmas. It is comprised of an orbiting spacecraft and its instruments, Beagle 2 lander and the launcher.

Mars Express will search for sub-surface water from orbit and signs of life with the Beagle 2 lander on the surface of Mars. The task of collecting rock and soil samples for analysis will mainly be executed by the Mars Rock Grinder/Corer and the mole on the robotic arm of Beagle 2.

Seven scientific instruments onboard the orbiting spacecraft will perform a series of remote sensing experiments designed to shed new light on the Martian atmosphere and the planet's surface composition and geology.

The Mars Rock Grinder/Corer is the result of years of research and development by a 12-member team led by four scholars from the PolyU, Dr Ng Tze-chuen, Professor Yung Kai-leung, Dr Chris Wong Ho-ching, Mr Yu Chun-ho, and an engineer, Mr Chan Chiu-cheung. It was produced using state-of-the-art facilities at the PolyU Industrial Centre. Nobel Laureate in Physics, Professor Yang Chen-ning, is the scientific adviser to the project.

The Mars Rock Grinder/Corer integrates the characteristics of Chinese chopsticks into the design for effective retrieval of rock samples. The device grinds, drills, cores and grips rock samples, with as little as two watts of energy consumption and weighs only 370 grams - much lighter and more energy-efficient than similar instruments.

Admission to the exhibition is free. For details, visit the Space Museum's website at http://hk.space.museum.

The Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays). For enquiries, call 2721 0226.

End/Thursday, July 31, 2003

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