Feeds

Mars Express up and running

And slim hope for student satellite

High performance access to file storage

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". ®

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
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
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
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.