26 November 2018, Paris. Expleo, the preferred partner for some of the biggest names in engineering, quality and digital solutions, has been part of the project to develop and produce the SEIS (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures) seismometer. This instrument is central to the NASA InSight mission that is scheduled to land on Mars today, Monday 26 November, to carry out the first geophysical study of the interior of the red planet.

Expleo was appointed by project leader CNES (the French government space agency) to carry out all aspects of SEIS Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT), as well as qualification of the seismometer. As the main payload of the InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission, this French-made seismometer will measure seismic activity on Mars and the distortion of its core in response to the tides of Phobos, the larger of the planet’s two natural satellites.

When the project was launched in 2013, CNES appointed Expleo to cover every aspect of AIT, and address the key challenges of flight model integration and testing, test system software and hardware configuration; as well as conducting all the tests and qualifications required under the real-life conditions that the seismometer will encounter when deployed and operated on the surface of Mars.

Expleo has been involved in every link in the AIT value chain, from AIT engineering to writing the test procedures and preparing test zones and resources, right through to conducting the tests under real-life Mars conditions. Its multiskilled team was able to respond effectively to the very particular challenges specific to the SEIS project and, more particularly, meet its critical time constraints. The different orbits of Mars and Earth mean that the launch windows for successful flight to the red planet are extremely narrow, and have therefore governed every aspect of the project timetable.

With more than 30 years’ experience of space exploration, Expleo works alongside public-sector and private-sector space agencies in Europe and internationally on the development of their new products, including satellites, nanosatellites, launchers and ground stations. Its expertise spans the entire lifecycle, from design to manufacture (integration and testing, quality supporting test resources). Expleo has the capability to contribute to complex innovation projects like the SEIS seismometer, and respond effectively to the major challenges now facing the space industry, which include the democratisation of access to space, especially as a result of satellite miniaturisation.

Damien Lasou, Group Executive Vice President and Head of the Aerospace & Defence SBU at Exleo: “We’re extremely proud of having been able to contribute the expertise of Expleo to a scientific research project on the scale of the SEIS seismometer, and thereby contribute to the first geophysical study of the interior of the planet Mars. The tight technical constraints and fixed lead times were all challenges that we were able to overcome thanks to our expertise in managing complex projects, including AIT.”

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