A seismometer controlled with Swiss-developed electronics will be aboard NASA's Mars lander InSight, which is scheduled to be launched from California on Saturday.
The Insight lander is designed to drill into the surface of Mars and gather samples to help understand how the Red Planet was formed with considerable Swiss expertise, the government said in a statement Friday.
The NASA mission is a seismometer, developed and built under the lead of France together with Germany, Switzerland, Britain and the United States.
It is using the knowledge, expertise and experience of geophysicists and engineers from the ETH Zurich, the top Swiss technological university and research institution working with private industry, flowing into the electronic brain of the seismometer.
"Switzerland is once again part of a space mission from which ground-breaking results are expected," the Swiss government said in a statement.
Switzerland's contribution to InSight was developed under the lead of the ETH Zurich (Earth Sciences Department) together with the electronics company SYDERAL SA (Gals, BE) as its industrial partner.
The element in question is the Seisometer Electronic Box (SEIS E-Box), the power supply and control unit, which supplies the sensors with power, receives their measurement data, temporarily stores them, processes them and holds them for transmission to the ground station, said the government statement.
As a small country, it is not practicable to operate a national space program, said the Swiss statement.
However, "to be able to play a part in space activities, Switzerland's approach is to take part in cooperation efforts and tap the specific expertise and experience of the European Space Agency (ESA)."