Technology used to protect the drivers of Formula 1 racing cars will shield the British Mars lander Beagle 2 on its descent to the surface of the red planet.
McLaren Composites has been signed up to work with Matra Marconi to construct the probe.
Colin Pillinger, who is leading the Beagle 2 consortium, said: "It will need to be light, strong and able to survive the impact of landing on Mars. After the recent failures of other space missions, we will be restoring public confidence by working with a company that everyone recognises as a byword for high- tech, strength and safety."
Impressed MPs on the House of Commons trade and industry committee quizzed Professor Pillinger on Tuesday on how he has managed to find the backing to ensure Beagle 2 reaches Mars on Boxing Day 2003. It is already funded by the government and Astronomical Research Council.