Feeds

Mars Express up and running

And slim hope for student satellite

The next step in data security

A faulty instrument on Mars Express is up and running again after a "few months" out of action. The Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) went offline in July this year when its pendulum motor broke down. Once mission scientists were able to establish the cause of the problem, they switched to the back up motor and the PFS is back in business.

The PFS is designed to take very precise measurements of the distribution of the main gases that make up the Martian atmosphere, as well as measuring how temperature and pressure change with altitude, and tracking how this changes with the seasons.

When conditions are good it can also detect less abundant gases, the presence of dust in the atmosphere, and even make inferences about the composition of the soil.

It was the PFS that made the first ever in-situ measurements of methane in the Martian atmosphere, and also discovered traces of formaldehyde in the soil, provoking even more speculation than usual that there might be life on the red planet.

Now that the instrument has been switched back on, it will be able to start gathering data again almost immediately, mission managers say.

In related news, ESA said this week that there is a "small hope" that the student-built Sseti satellite would recover from its power problems. After a successful launch, the satellite was quickly put into safe mode after it emerged that there is a problem with charging its batteries.

In a bid to make the best of a bad situation, those in charge of the project stress that many of its goals have already been achieved. Project manager Neil Melville said that the mission had been a success from "an educational and technical standpoint". ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.