Feeds

Heat treatment straightens out MARSIS boom

Sorted

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Flight controllers on the Mars Express mission successfully deployed the troublesome first boom of the MARSIS experiment. All it needed was a little bit of heat.

When the first antenna began to open on 4 May, all but one of the 13 segments locked into position correctly. One section, probably the 10th, had unfolded, but was not locked in place. It was almost as though the boom had a crick in its neck after being folded up for so long en-route to, and in orbit around, Mars.

The mission engineers reasoned that since the cold of space can affect the Kevlar and fibre glass of the boom, they needed to heat the area in the hopes that it would expand the cold part, forcing the segment to lock out properly. So they swung the spacecraft around so that the cold side of the boom faced the distant sun. After an hour, the data suggested that the plan had worked, and the final piece had locked into place.

Mission controllers had postponed deployment of the second and third booms, until the problem with the first could be rectified. Mission scientists are still working on a thorough analysis of what exactly happened with boom one, but now that everything is in place, the rest of the unfurling should be resumed within the next few weeks.

The MARSIS experiment, full name Mars Express Sub-Surface Sounding Radar Altimeter experiment, is designed to map the Martian sub-surface structure to a depth of a few kilometres. It is one of seven scientific experiments on board the craft. ®

Related stories

MARSIS experiment hit by delay
NASA boffins plan Venusian airline
Missing Mars lander shows up in old pics
Mars Express starts unfurling radar booms

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?