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Six axes seismology: PIONEERS

The "Space Systems for Planetary Applications" (SSPA) research team is primarily focussed on the development of space missions and the associated technologies for the geophysical exploration of the Solar System.

The PIONEERS (Planetary Instruments based on Optical technologies for an iNnovative European Exploration using Rotational Seismology) project, funded by the H2020 program of the European Commission and under the call H2020-SPACE-20-2018, will allow Europe to enter a new realm of planetary exploration with an innovative ground motion instrumentation concept relying on high precision sensors based on optical interferometry.

With a goal of keeping the European leadership in planetary seismology and high precision measurements of ground deformations, we will develop two innovative 6 degrees of freedom (6 DoF, with 3 translations and 3 rotations) instruments for measuring ground deformation on planetary objects. The first instrument is a prototype of very low noise 6 DoF sensor dedicated to internal structure imaging of terrestrial planets. The second one is a high TRL CubeSat version of the same instrument concept for exploration of small bodies.

For single to sparse networks, 6 DoF measurements provide substantial more science return compared to classic 3 DoF measurements. Only currently emerging for terrestrial applications, 6 DoF measurements target fundamental science objectives from the formation of planetary systems to the characterization of habitable worlds, and will support planetary defense and asteroid resources applications.

Instruments will be designed based on scientific requirements, and re-using planetary seismology expertise and space qualified, high performance optical technologies provided by the PIONEERS partners. The science case of 6 DoF planetary exploration will be demonstrated through simulations, application of innovative data analysis methods, and testing in Earth analogue and laboratory environments.

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