Feeds

Mars Express starts unfurling radar booms

Better late than never

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.