Feeds

MARSIS is ready to go digging on Mars

Hunting for H2O

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
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.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.