Feeds

Mars Express starts unfurling radar booms

Better late than never

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Over the next two weeks the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter will deploy its radar booms and start looking up to 5km below the Martian surface for water, and other materials.

Deployment of the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding instrument) instrument has been delayed for over a year, because of fears that the booms could damage the orbiter. In early 2004 the boom's manufacturers said that new simulations suggested that the booms could over-extend when their pyro technics fired, putting the craft's delicate instruments at risk.

Following testing by NASA engineers at the JPL laboratory, mission scientists finally got the go-ahead to deploy in February this year.

The MARSIS instrument comprises three arms - or booms - and each will be deployed separately. Before each phase, the spacecraft will be placed in what ESA describes as "robust" attitude control mode. This means the craft will be able to spin freely in space while the boom is extended.

The two 20-metre dipole booms which make up MARSIS's main antenna will be set up first and if all goes well will be followed by the seven-metre, receive-only, monopole boom. After each boom is unfurled, ESA says it will carry out a full assessment of the craft before moving on to the next phase.

According to the current schedule, all three booms should be up and running by 12 May. However, ESA says this is very much subject to change.

In related news, NASA's next robotic emissary to Mars arrived in Florida yesterday to begin final testing ahead of its August launch.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will study the composition and structure of Mars' atmosphere and sub-surface, NASA says. It will also be on the look out for sites for future Martian landings, and will serve as a high-data-rate communications relay for surface missions. ®

Related stories

Europe will land on Mars in 2013
Another 18 months for Mars rovers
Dust devils spring clean Martian rover
Frozen sea on Mars hints at alien life

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?