Feeds

MARSIS is ready to go digging on Mars

Hunting for H2O

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The Mars Express MARSIS experiment is at last fully deployed, seven weeks after the European Space Agency gave the go ahead for the radar booms to be unfurled. ESA announced yesterday that the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding experiment has undergone its first checkout, and is ready to start scanning the red planet.

Artists impression of the fully deployed MARSIS satellite Credit: ESA

The MARSIS experiment is the last science package on board the Mars Express Orbiter, and will provide scientists with their first glimpse of what is going on beneath the surface of Mars. It consists of three antennae: two dipole booms, each 20 metres long, and one seven-metre mono pole boom, arranged at 90 degrees to the first two.

Unfurling the booms was a delicate and uncertain process. A hinge on the first boom got stuck while it was being unfolded back in early May, and after some deliberation mission controllers managed to get it to lock properly by turning the stuck portion to face the sun. The heat from Sol was enough to expand the section so that it locked into place.

The second boom was successfully extended by mid June, and the third deployment on 17 June went very smoothly, ESA said.

Professor David Southwood, ESA's science programme director, acknowledged the importance of the international collaboration between the European space agencies and NASA in making the Mars Express mission a success. "Overcoming all the technical challenges to operate an instrument like MARSIS, which had never flown in space before this mission, has been made possible thanks to magnificent cooperation between experts on both sides of the Atlantic," he said.

MARSIS will send out a coded stream of radio waves towards Mars at night, and scientists will analyse the echoes to make deductions about the surface and subsurface structure, as well as the structure of the upper atmosphere. In particular, they will search for water that might lie hidden below the surface. ®

Related stories

Heat treatment straightens out MARSIS boom
MARSIS experiment hit by delay
Mars Express starts unfurling radar booms
Frozen sea on Mars hints at alien life

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.