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Friday, January 23, 2004

Mars Express returns Data

Mars Express, the doomed Beagle's orbiter, is due to reach its final orbit on the 28th. Already, the first instrument turned on, the OMEGA (a combined camera and infrared spectrometer, has already revealed the presence of water ice and carbon dioxide ice) has reviled solid water and Carbon dioxide on the southern polar cap. The PFS, a high-resolution spectrometer has also found different distributions of Carbon dioxide in the northern on southern hemispheres. The SPICAM (a UV and IR spectrometer) has measured the atmosphere in the first star occultation recorded. It found that the concentration of water vapor is inversely proportional the amount of ozone). The ASPERA (a plasma and energetic neutral atoms analyzer) is to measure the affects of the solar wind on Mars (possibly, to see if the solar winds led to the lack of water on the surface. The High reselution stereo camera has made the largest high-resolution picture ever. The printed picture (24 by 1.5 meters) was carried to the pressroom by a group of 10-year-old children. Mrs. Edelgard Bulmahn, the German Minister for Research and Education and the chair of the ESA Council at Ministerial level, said, "Europe can be proud of this mission: Mars Express is an enormous success for the European Space Program."

(More info: ESA)

- posted by Jim @ 18:49 EST