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Encyclopedia > Mars Express
Mars Express

Concept model of the Mars Express spacecraft
Organization: ESA
Mission type: Orbiter + Lander
Satellite of: Mars
Orbital insertion date: December 25, 2003
Launch date: June 2, 2003
Launch vehicle: Soyuz/Fregat
NSSDC ID: 2003-022A
Webpage: ESA Mars Express project (official site)
Mass: 1123 (666 + 457 fuel) kg
Power: 460 W (Mars)
Inclination: 86.3º
Apoapsis: 10,107 km
Periapsis: 298 km
edit
Concept model of the Mars Express spacecraft
Main Engine Thrust for braking manouevre on Venus Express. A similar engine was used for the same purpose on Mars Express.

Mars Express is a Mars exploration mission of the European Space Agency and the first planetary mission attempted by the agency. "Express" originally referred to the speed and efficiency with which the spacecraft was designed and built. However "express" also describes the spacecraft's relatively short interplanetary voyage, a result of being launched when the orbits of Earth and Mars brought them closer than they had been in about 60,000 years. Image File history File links Gnome_globe_current_event. ... ISS in earth orbit. ... Image File history File links Shuttle. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... This article is about the European Space Agency. ... Adjectives: Martian Atmosphere Surface pressure: 0. ... is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 153rd day of the year (154th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Soyuz rocket on launch pad. ... Fregat is a rocket stage developed in the NPO im. ... The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) is a department in NASAs Solar System Exploration Division. ... For the science fiction novella by William Shunn, see Inclination (novella). ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the solar system, named after the Roman god of war (the counterpart of the Greek Ares), on account of its blood red color as viewed in the night sky. ... “ESA” redirects here. ... The Space Shuttle Discovery as seen from the International Space Station. ...


Mars Express consists of two parts, the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2, a lander designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research. Although the lander failed to land safely on martian surface, the Orbiter has been successfully performing scientific measurements since Early 2004, namely, high-resolution imaging and mineralogical mapping of the surface, radar sounding of the subsurface structure down to the permafrost, precise determination of the atmospheric circulation and composition, and study of the interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary medium. Beagle 2 as it would have looked on Mars Beagle 2 was an unsuccessful British landing spacecraft that formed part of the European Space Agencys 2003 Mars Express mission. ... Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, has a very different atmosphere from that of Earth. ... Heliospheric current sheet, the largest structure in the Solar System, results from the influence of the Suns rotating magnetic field on the plasma in the interplanetary medium (Solar Wind) [1]. (click to enlarge) The interplanetary medium is the material which fills the solar system and through which all the...


Due to the valuable science return and the highly flexible mission profile that Mars Express has been granted two consecutive mission extensions until (at least) May 2009.


Some of the instruments on the orbiter, including the camera systems and some spectrometers, reuse designs from the failed launch of the Russian Mars 96 mission in 1996 (European countries had provided much of the instrumentation and financing for that unsuccessful mission). The basic design of Mars Express is based on ESA's Rosetta mission, on which considerable sum was spent on development. The same design was also used for the Venus Express mission in order to increase reliability and reduce development cost and time. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Conceptual drawing of the Rosetta orbiter and Philae lander Rosetta is a European Space Agency-led unmanned space mission launched in 2004 intended to study the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ... Venus Express is the first Venus exploration mission of the European Space Agency. ...

Contents

Mission profile and timeline overview

Mission overview

The Mars Express mission is dedicated to the orbital and possibly in-situ study of the interior, subsurface, surface and atmosphere, and environment of the planet Mars. The scientific objectives of the Mars Express mission represent an attempt to fulfil in part the lost scientific goals of the Russian Mars-96 mission, complemented by exobiology research with Beagle-2. Mars exploration is crucial for a better understanding of the Earth from the perspective of comparative planetology.


The spacecraft will carry seven scientific instruments, a small lander, a lander relay and a Visual Monitoring Camera, all of which will contribute to solving the mystery of Mars missing water. All of the instruments will take measurements of the surface, atmosphere and interplanetary media, from the main spacecraft in polar orbit, which will allow it to gradually cover the whole planet. The overall Mars Express budget excluding the lander is 150 million (roughly US$185 million). For other uses, see Euro (disambiguation). ... USD redirects here. ...


Spacecraft construction

The prime contractor for the construction of Mars Express Orbiter was EADS Astrium Satellites. EADS Astrium Satellites, one of the three business units of EADS Astrium, this company being a subsidiary of EADS, is an European space manufacturer involved in the manufacture of spacecraft used for science, Earth observation and telecommunication, as well as the equipment and subsystems used therein and related ground systems. ...


Mission preparation

In the years preceding the launch of a spacecraft numerous teams of experts distributed over the contributing companies and organisations are preparing the space and ground segments. Each of these teams is focusing on the area of its responsibility and is interfacing as required. A major additional requirement raised for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) and all critical operational phases: interfacing is not enough, integrating the teams into one Mission Control Team is a must. All the different experts shall work together in an operational environment and the interaction and interfaces between all elements of the system (software, hardware and human) have to run smoothly for this to happen:

  • The flight operations procedures had to be written and validated down to the smallest detail;
  • The control system had to be validated;
  • System Validation Tests (SVTs) with the satellite had to be performed to demonstrate the correct interfacing of the ground and space segments.
  • Mission Readiness Test with the Ground Stations had to be performed;
  • A Simulations Campaign is run.

Launch

Mars Express launch from Baikonur

The spacecraft was launched on June 2, 2003 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, using a Soyuz-Fregat rocket, and began its inter-planetary voyage. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... is the 153rd day of the year (154th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Map showing the location of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan The Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakh: Байқоңыр ғарыш айлағы, Bayqoñır ğarış aylağı; Russian: Космодром Байконур, Kosmodrom Baykonur), also called Tyuratam, is the worlds oldest and largest operational space launch facility. ... Soyuz rocket on launch pad. ...


Launch took place on a Soyuz/Fregat from Baikonur Cosmodrome on June 2 2003 at 23:45 local time (17:45 UT, 1:45 p.m. EDT), with the Mars Express and Fregat booster put into a 200 km Earth parking orbit. The Fregat was fired again at 19:14 UT to put the spacecraft into a Mars transfer orbit, and the Fregat and Mars Express separated at approximately 19:17 UT. The solar panels have been deployed and a trajectory correction maneuver was performed on June 4 to aim Mars Express towards Mars and allow the Fregat booster to coast into interplanetary space. Soyuz rocket on launch pad. ... Fregat is a rocket stage developed in the NPO im. ... is the 153rd day of the year (154th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... A laundromat in California with flat-plate solar water heating collectors on its roof. ... is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


Near earth commissioning phase

The Near Earth Commissioning phase extended from the separation of the spacecraft from the launcher upper stage until the completion of the initial check out of the orbiter and payload. It includes the solar array deployment, the initial attitude acquisition, the declamping of the Beagle-2 spin-up mechanism, the injection error correction manoeuvre and the first commissioning of the spacecraft and payload (final commissioning of payload takes place after Mars Orbit Insertion). The payload are checked out one instrument at a time. This phase lasted about one month.


The interplanetary cruise phase

This five month phase lasted from the end of the Near Earth Commissioning phase until one month prior to the Mars capture manoeuvre and included trajectory correction manoeuvres and payloads calibration. The payload was mostly switched off during the cruise phase, with the exception of some intermediate check-outs. Although it was originally meant to be a "quiet cruise" phase, It soon became obvious that this "cruise" would be indeed very busy. Star Tracker problems, power wiring problem, extra manoeuvres, and on the 28th of October, the Spacecraft was hit by one of the largest solar flares ever recorded. More on this, consult "published papers"at the bottom of the article. A solar flare observed by Hinode in the G-band. ...

Lander jettison

Beagle 2 jettison manoeuvre

The Beagle 2 lander was released on December 19 at 8:31 UTC (9:31 CET) on a ballistic cruise towards the surface. On December 20 Mars Express fired a short thruster burst to put it into position to orbit the planet. The Mars Express Orbiter then fired its main engine and went into a highly elliptical initial-capture orbit of 250 km × 150,000 km with an inclination of 25 degrees on December 25 at 03:00 UT (10:00 p.m., December 24 EST). Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... is the 353rd day of the year (354th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 354th day of the year (355th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


The Beagle 2 lander was supposed to coast for five days after release and enter the Martian atmosphere on the morning of 25 December. Landing was expected to occur at about 02:45 UT on 25 December (9:45 p.m. EST 24 December). is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


After several fruitless contact attempts by Mars Express and NASA Mars Odyssey Orbiter the lander was declared lost. This article is about the American space agency. ... Artists concept of the 2001 Mars Odyssey Spacecraft 2001 Mars Odyssey is an unmanned spacecraft orbiting the planet Mars. ...


Orbit insertion

Mars Express arrived at Mars after a 400 million km journey and a course correction in September and in December 2003.


The orbiter entered Mars orbit on December 25, 2003, and Beagle 2 entered Mars' atmosphere the same day. After repeated attempts to contact the lander failed, it was declared lost on February 6, 2004, by the Beagle 2 Management Board. On February 11, ESA announced an inquiry would be held into the failure of Beagle 2. is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 37th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 42nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...


First evaluation of the orbital insertion showed that the orbiter reached its first milestone at Mars. The orbit was later adjusted by four more main engine firings to the desired 259 km × 11,560 km near-polar (86 degree inclination) orbit with a period of 7.5 hours. Near periapsis the top deck is pointed down towards the Martian surface and near apoapsis the high gain antenna will be pointed towards Earth for uplink and downlink. This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ...


After 100 days the apoapsis has been lowered to 10,107 km and periapsis has been raised to 298 km to give an orbital period of 6.7 hours.


MARSIS deployment

MARSIS deployment

On May 4, 2005, Mars Express deployed the first of its two 20-metre-long radar booms for its MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) experiment. At first the boom didn't lock fully into place; however, exposing it to sunlight for a few minutes on May 10 fixed the glitch. The second 20 m boom was successfully deployed on June 14. Both 20 m booms were needed to create a 40 m dipole antenna for MARSIS to work; a less crucial 7-meter-long monopole antenna was deployed on June 17. The radar booms were originally scheduled to be deployed in April 2004, but this was delayed out of fear that the deployment could damage the spacecraft through a whiplash effect. Due to the delay it was decided to split the four week commissioning phase in two parts, with two weeks running up to July 4 and another two weeks in December 2005. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... is the 124th day of the year (125th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Radar (disambiguation). ... is the 130th day of the year (131st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 165th day of the year (166th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... A simple half-wave dipole antenna that a shortwave listener might build. ... is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


The deployment of the booms have been a critical and high complex task and has shown the efficiency of interagency cooperation ESA, NASA, Industry and public Universities.


Nominal science observations began during July 2005. (For more info, see [1], [2], and ESA press release.)


Operations of the spacecraft

Operations for Mars Express are carried out by a multinational team of engineers from ESA’s Operation Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt. The team began preparations for the mission about 3 to 4 years prior to the actual launch. This involved preparing the ground segment and the operational procedures for the whole mission. Centre in Darmstadt, Germany The European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) is responsible for controlling ESA satellites and space probes. ... For other uses, see Darmstadt (disambiguation). ...


The Mission Control Team is comprised of the Flight Control Team, Flight Dynamics Team, Ground Operations Managers, Software Support and Ground Facilities Engineers. All of these are located at ESOC but there are additionally external teams, such as the Project and Industry Support teams, who designed and built the spacecraft. The Flight Control Team consists of:

  • The Spacecraft Operations Manager
  • Eight Operations Engineers
  • Three Mission Planners
  • One Spacecraft Analyst
  • Five Spacecraft controllers

The team build-up started about 4 years before launch headed by the Spacecraft Operations Manager. He was required to recruit a suitable team of engineers that could handle the varying tasks involved in the mission. For Mars Express the engineers came from various other missions. Mainly engineers previously involved with Earth orbiting satellites.


Routine phase: Science return

Since orbit insertion Mars Express has been progressively fulfilling its original scientific goals. Nominally the spacecraft points to Mars while acquiring science and then slews to earth-pointing to downlink the data, although some instruments like Marsis or Radio Science might be operated too while spacecraft is earth-pointing. Refer to "scientific discoveries" bullet down the article


Mars Express Spacecraft Orbiter and subsystems

Structural

The Mars Express Orbiter is a cube-shaped spacecraft with two solar panel wings extending from opposite sides. The launch mass of 1123 kg includes a main bus with 113 kg of payload, the 60 kg lander, and 457 kg of propellant. The main body is 1.5 m × 1.8 m × 1.4 m in size, with an aluminium honeycomb structure covered by an aluminum skin. The solar panels measure about 12 m tip-to-tip. Two 20 m long wire dipole antennas extend from opposite side faces perpendicular to the solar panels as part of the radar sounder. A photovoltaic module is composed of individual PV cells. ... A simple half-wave dipole antenna that a shortwave listener might build. ...


Propulsion

Most of the energy needed to propel Mars Express from Earth to Mars was provided by the four-stage Soyuz/Fregat launcher. The Fregat upper stage separated from the spacecraft after placing it on a Mars-bound trajectory. The spacecraft used its on-board means of propulsion solely for orbit corrections and to slow the spacecraft down for Mars orbit insertion.


The body is built around the main propulsion system, which consists of a bipropellant 400 N main engine. The two 267-liter propellant tanks have a total capacity of 595 kg. Approximately 370 kg are needed for the nominal mission. Pressurized helium from a 35 liter tank is used to force fuel into the engine. Trajectory corrections will be made using a set of eight 10 N thrusters, one attached to each corner of the spacecraft bus. The spacecraft configuration is optimized for a Soyuz/Fregat, and was fully compatible with a Delta II launch vehicle. F-1 rocket engine (The kind used by the Saturn V.) A bipropellant rocket engine is a rocket engine that uses two fluid propellants stored in separate tanks that are injected into, and undergo a strong exothermic reaction, in a rockets combustion chamber. ... For other uses, see Newton (disambiguation). ... The Delta II family of launch vehicles was designed and built by Boeings Integrated Defense Systems division and has been in service since 1989. ...


Power

Spacecraft power is provided by the solar panels which contain 11.42 square meters of silicon cells. The originally planned power was to be 660 W at 1.5 AU but a faulty connection has reduced the amount of power available by 30%, to about 460 W. This loss of power is not expected to significantly impact the science return of the mission. Power is stored in three lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 64.8 A/h for use during eclipses. The power is fully regulated at 28 V. During routine phase, the spacecraft's power consumption is in the interval 450 W - 550 W. For other uses, see Watt (disambiguation). ... The astronomical unit (AU or au or a. ... Lithium ion batteries (sometimes abbreviated Li-Ion or Li-On) are a type of rechargeable battery commonly used in consumer electronics. ... Josephson junction array chip developed by NIST as a standard volt. ...


Avionics

Attitude control (3-axis stabilization) is achieved using two 3-axis inertial measurement units, a set of two star cameras and two Sun sensors, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and four 12 N·m·s reaction wheels. Pointing accuracy is 0.04 degree with respect to the inertial reference frame and 0.8 degree with respect to the Mars orbital frame. Three on-board systems help Mars Express maintain a very precise pointing accuracy, which is essential to allow the spacecraft to communicate with a 35-metre and 70-metre dish on Earth up to 400 million kilometres away. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Attitude_dynamics_and_control. ... In the context of spacecraft, attitude control is control of the angular position and rotation of the spacecraft, either relative to the object that it is orbiting, or relative to the celestial sphere. ... A gyroscope For other uses, see Gyroscope (disambiguation). ... A depiction of an accelerometer designed at Sandia National Laboratories. ... A momentum wheel is a type of flywheel used primarily by spacecraft to change their angular momentum without using fuel for rockets or other reaction devices. ...


Communications

The communications subsystem is composed of 3 antennas: A 1.7 m diameter parabolic dish high-gain antenna and two omnidirectional antennas. The first one provide links (Telecommands uplink and Telemetry downlink) in both X-band (7.1 GHz) and S-band (2.1 GHz) and is used during nominal science phase around Mars. The low gain antennas are used during Launch and early operations to Mars and for eventual contingencies once in orbit. Two Mars lander relay UHF antennas are mounted on the top face for communication with the Beagle 2. The high-gain antenna (HGA) is an antenna with a focused, narrow radiowave beam width. ... The X band, ranging from 8. ... The S band ranges from 2 to 4 GHz. ...


Earth Stations

Although communications with Earth were originally scheduled to take place with the ESA 35-meter wide Ground Station in New Norcia (Australia) New Norcia Station, the mission profile of progressive enhancement and science return flexibility have triggered the use of the newest ESA ESTRACK Ground Station in Cebreros Station, Madrid, Spain. ESA Ground Station - New Norcia. ... ESOC network of ground-based space-tracking stations. ... Cebreros Station is an INSA operated, ESTRACK radio antenna station for communication with spacecraft located 90 km from Madrid, Spain. ...


In addition, further agreements with NASA Deep Space Network have made possible the use of American stations for nominal mission planning, thus increasing complexity but with a clear positive impact in scientific returns. Deep Space Network (DSN) is an international network of radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions, and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. ...


This inter-agency cooperation has proven effective, flexible and enriching for both sides. On the technical side, it has been made possible (among other reasons) thanks to the adoption of both Agencies of the Standards for Space Communications defined in CCSDS CCSDS Logo (NASA) The Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) is an international organization of major national space agencies and industry partners formed in 1982 that peacefully cooperate in the development of standards to promote interchange of space-related information. ...


Thermal

Thermal control is maintained through the use of radiators, multi-layer insulation, and actively controlled heaters. The spacecraft must provide a benign environment for the instruments and on-board equipment. Two instruments, PFS and OMEGA, have infrared detectors that need to be kept at very low temperatures (about -180 °C). The sensors on the camera (HRSC) also need to be kept cool. But the rest of the instruments and on-board equipment function best at room temperatures (10-20 °C). Closeup of Multi-layer insulation from a satellite. ...


The spacecraft is encapsulated in thermal blankets made from gold-plated aluminium-tin alloy, to keep the interior at 10-20 °C. The instruments that need to be kept cold are thermally insulated from the warm interior of the spacecraft and attached to radiators that lose heat to space, which is very cold (about -270 °C).


Control Unit and Data storage

Beagle 2 as it would have looked on Mars

The spacecraft is run by two Control and Data management Units with a 10 gigabit solid state mass memory for storage of data and housekeeping information for transmission. The on-board computers control all aspects of the spacecraft functioning including switching instruments on and off, assessing the spacecraft orientation in space and issuing commands to change it. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...


Lander

The Beagle 2 lander objectives were to characterize the landing site geology, mineralogy, and geochemistry, the physical properties of the atmosphere and surface layers, collect data on Martian meteorology and climatology, and search for possible signatures of life. However, the landing attempt was unsuccessful and the lander was declared lost. An underdimension on the parachuting device had been deemed as plausible cause of the loss. Beagle 2 as it would have looked on Mars Beagle 2 was an unsuccessful British landing spacecraft that formed part of the European Space Agencys 2003 Mars Express mission. ...


Mars Express instruments

SPICAM Ultraviolet and Infrared Atmospheric Spectrometer

The scientific objectives of the Mars Express Payload are to obtain global high-resolution photo-geology (10 m resolution), mineralogical mapping (100 m resolution) and mapping of the atmospheric composition, study the subsurface structure, the global atmospheric circulation, and the interaction between the atmosphere and the subsurface, and the atmosphere and the interplanetary medium. The total mass budgeted for the science payload is 116 kg.[1] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

MARSIS working principle
  • Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer (OMEGA)(Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité) - France - Determines mineral composition of the surface up to 100 m resolution. Is mounted inside pointing out the top face. [2]
  • Ultraviolet and Infrared Atmospheric Spectrometer (SPICAM) - France - Assesses elemental composition of the atmosphere. Is mounted inside pointing out the top face.
  • Sub-Surface Sounding Radar Altimeter (MARSIS) - Italy - A radar altimeter used to assess composition of sub-surface aimed at search for frozen water. Is mounted in the body and is nadir pointing, and also incorporates the two 20 m antennas.
  • Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) - Italy - Makes observations of atmospheric temperature and pressure (observations suspended in September 2005).Is mounted inside pointing out the top face. [3], currently working)
  • Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms (ASPERA) - Sweden - Investigates interactions between upper atmosphere and solar wind. Is mounted on the top face.
  • High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC)- Germany - Produces color images with up to 2 m resolution. Is mounted inside the spacecraft body, aimed through the top face of the spacecraft, which is nadir pointing during Mars operations.
  • Mars Express Lander Communications (MELACOM) - UK - Allows Mars Express to act as a communication relay for landers on the Martian surface.
  • Mars Radio Science Experiment (Mars) - Uses radio signals to investigate atmosphere, surface, subsurface, gravity and solar corona density during solar conjunctions. It uses the communications subsystem itself.
  • A small camera to monitor the lander ejection, VMC.
  • More on Payload [4]

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) is a low frequency, pulse-limited radar sounder and altimeter used on the ESA Mars Express mission. ... Diagram showing the face of a three-pointer sensitive aircraft altimeter displaying altitude in feet. ...

Scientific discoveries and important events

For more than 4000 orbits, Mars Express Payload instruments have been nominally and regularly operated. HRSC camera has been stubbornly mapping the Martian surface with unprecedented resolution and has taken dozens of breath-taking pictures.


In 2005, ESA scientists reported that the OMEGA (Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer)(Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité) instrument data indicates the presence of hydrated sulphates, silicates and various rock-forming minerals. This article is about the European Space Agency. ...


The Fourier spectrometer has detected methane in the atmosphere coming from areas near the equator with subsurface ice, a very important discovery indicating either some form of active vulcanism or subsurface microorganisms.[3]


In November 2005, with just a few months of measurements having been taken thus far, ESA released data from MARSIS which included buried impact craters, and hints of the presence of underground water-ice.


2004

A spectacular view of the Caldera of Olympus Mons(HRSC)
  • January 23
    • ESA announced the discovery of water ice in the South Polar ice cap, using data taken on January 18 with the OMEGA instrument.
Water in Martian South Pole(OMEGA)
  • January 28
    • Mars Express Orbiter reaches final science orbit around Mars.
  • March 30
    • A press release announces that the orbiter has detected methane in the Martian atmosphere. Although the amount is small, about 10 parts in a thousand million, it has excited scientists ask about its source. Since methane is removed from the Martian "air" very fast, there needs to be a current source that releases fresh methane still today. Because one of the possible sources could be microbial life, it is planned to verify the reliability of this data and especially watch for difference in the concentration in various places on Mars. It is hoped that the source of this gas can be discovered by finding its location of release.
  • April 28
    • ESA announced that the deployment of the boom carrying the radar based MARSIS antenna was delayed. It described concerns with the motion of the boom during deployment, which can cause the spacecraft to be struck by elements of it. Further investigations are planned to make sure that this will not happen.
  • July 15
    • Scientists working with the PFS instrument announced that they tentatively discovered the spectral features of the compound ammonia in the Martian atmosphere. Just like methane discovered earlier (see above), ammonia breaks down rapidly in Mars' atmosphere and needs to be constantly replenished. This points towards the existence of active life or geological activity; two contending phenomena whose presence so far have remained undetected. [5]

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... is the 23rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 18th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... is the 28th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 89th day of the year (90th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Methane is a chemical compound with the molecular formula CH4. ... is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 196th day of the year (197th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Ammonia (disambiguation). ...

2005

Subsurface echoes from Chryse Planitia plains (MARSIS)
  • February 8
    • The delayed deployment of the MARSIS antenna has been given a green light by ESA [6]. It is planned to take place in early May 2005.
  • May 5
    • The first boom of the MARSIS antenna was successfully deployed [7]. At first, there was no indication of any problems, but later it was discovered that one segment of the boom did not lock [8]. The deployment of the second boom was delayed to allow for further analysis of the problem.
  • May 11
    • Using the Sun's heat to expand the segments of the MARSIS antenna, the last segment locked in successfully [9].
  • June 14
    • The second boom was deployed, and on June 16 ESA announced it was a success [10].
  • June 22
    • ESA announces that MARSIS is fully operational and will soon begin acquiring data. This comes after the deployment of the third boom on June 17, and a successful transmission test on June 19. [11]

These image, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), show a patch of water ice sitting on the floor of an unnamed crater near the Martian north pole. [12] Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 125th day of the year (126th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 131st day of the year (132nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Sol redirects here. ... is the 165th day of the year (166th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 173rd day of the year (174th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 170th day of the year (171st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 209th day of the year (210th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


2006

Image:Face of mars Cydonia L.jpg
Cydonia- the face of Mars

ESA's Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) has obtained images of the Cydonia region, site of the famous 'Cydonia Mensae.'. The massif became famous in a photo taken in 1976 by the American Viking 1 Orbiter. The image recorded with a ground resolution of approximately 13.7 metres per pixel. [13] is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Cydonia Region taken by the Viking 1 orbiter and released by NASA/JPL on July 25, 1976 (north is to the upper right). ...

The Mars Express spacecraft has emerged from an unusually demanding eclipse season introducing a special, ultra-low-power mode nicknamed 'Sumo' - an innovative configuration aimed at saving the power necessary to ensure spacecraft survival. This mode was developed through tight teamwork between ESOC mission controllers, principal investigators, industry and mission management. [14] is the 269th day of the year (270th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

  • October

In October 2006 the Mars Express spacecraft has encountered a superior solar conjunction (alignment of Earth-Sun-Mars Express). The angle Sun-Earth-MEX reached a minimum on 23-Oct at 0.39 deg. at a distance of 2.66 AU. Operational measures were undertaken to minimize the impact of the link degradation, since the higher density of electrons in the solar plasma heavily impacts the radio frequency signal. More on [15]

  • December

Following the loss of NASA JPL Mars spacecraft Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), Mars Express team was requested to perform actions in the hopes of visually identifyng the American spacecraft. Based on last Ephemeris of MGS provided by JPL, the on-board high definition HRSC camera swept a region of the MGS orbit. Two attempts were made to find the craft, both unsuccessful. This article is about the American space agency. ... The JPL complex in Pasadena, Ca. ... The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was a US spacecraft developed by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched November 1996. ... An ephemeris (plural: ephemerides) (from the Greek word ephemeros = daily) is a device giving the positions of astronomical objects in the sky. ...


2007

  • January

First agreements with NASA-SPL undertaken for the support of Mars Express on the landing of the American lander Phoenix in May 2008 Phoenix is a robotic spacecraft on a space exploration mission to Mars under the Mars Scout Program. ...

  • February

The small camera VMC (used only once to monitor the lander ejection) has been recommissioned and first steps had been taken to offer students the possibility to participate in a campaign "Command Mars Express Spacecraft and take your own picture of Mars". Details to come.

As result of the important science return, the Science Program Committee (SPC) has granted a mission extension until May 2009 to Mars Express. [16] is the 54th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) has produced dramatic images of key tectonic features in Aeolis Mensae. [4] is the 179th day of the year (180th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


See also

“ESA” redirects here. ... ExoMars model at ILA 2006 (Berlin) ExoMars. ... Computer-generated image of one of the two Mars Exploration Rovers which touched down on Mars in 2004. ... Space exploration is the physical exploration of outer space, both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft. ... It has been suggested that Space probe be merged into this article or section. ...

External links

Payload Principal Investigators Links

  • HRSC FU Berlin [17]
  • MARSIS Uni Roma "La Sapienza" [18]
  • PFS IFSI/INAF [19]
  • SPICAM
  • OMEGA Institut Astrophysique Spatial [20]
  • MELACOM Qinetiq [21]
  • RSE Uni Köln [22]
  • ASPERA [23]

References

  1. ^ Andrew Wilson, Agustin Chicarro (2004). ESA SP-1240 : Mars Express: the scientific payload. ESA Publications Division. ISBN 92-9092-556-6. 
  2. ^ Bibring JP, Langevin Y, Mustard JF, Poulet F, Arvidson R, Gendrin A, Gondet B, Mangold N, Pinet P, Forget F (2006). "Global mineralogical and aqueous mars history derived from OMEGA/Mars express data". Science 312 (5772): 400-404. 
  3. ^ Formisano V, Atreya S, Encrenaz T, Ignatiev N, Giuranna M (2004). "Detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars". Science 306: 1758-1761. 
  4. ^ Tectonic signatures at Aeolis Mensae. ESA News. European Space Agency (2007-06-28). Retrieved on 2007-06-28.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Mars Express - definition of Mars Express in Encyclopedia (354 words)
The spacecraft was launched on June 2 2003 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, using a Soyuz-Fregat rocket, and began its inter-planetary voyage.
The craft consists of the Mars Express Orbiter which also carried a lander, Beagle 2, designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research.
Many of the instruments on the orbiter, including the camera systems and some spectrometers, are duplicates of those lost in the launch failure of the Russian Mars 96 mission in 1996 (European countries had provided much of the instrumentation and financing for that unsuccessful mission).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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