Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mars Bilder - pictures from Mars Express

The High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express has returned images of Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on the Red Planet. Echus Chasma is the source region of Kasei Valles which extends 3000 km to the north.

The data was acquired on 25 September 2005. The pictures are centred at about 1° north and 278° east and have a ground resolution of approximately 17 m/pixel.

Credits: ESA/ DLR/ FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
Die Bilder der deutschen "High Resolution Stereo Camera" zeigen noch 17 Meter große Details auf der Marsoberfläche

Die Echus-Schlucht gilt als eines der größten Quellgebiete für vergangenes Wasser auf dem Mars.

Die Stereokamera der europäischen Raumsonde "Mars Express" hat schon vorher Detailbilder einer gigantischen Schlucht auf dem Roten Planeten geliefert.

Die Computergrafik zeigt die Mars-Sonde Phoenix in der erwarteten Umgebung des Mars. Rund 20 Minuten nach der Landung wurden die Sonnensegel planmäßig ausgefahren.

Wassereis in einem Krater auf dem Mars

Einige belegen Eislawinen auf dem Himmelskörper. Dieses Bild zeigt einen Blick von Südwesten nach Nordwesten über eine markante, kreisförmige und bis zu 1400 Meter tiefe Senke von etwa 30 Kilometern Durchmesser. Das Gebiet befindet sich in der Übergangszone zwischen dem Marshochland und den nördlichen Tiefebenen - genannt Mamers Valles

Bildausschnitt der Eislawine auf dem Mars (Foto: nasa)

Die "Tafelberge des Windes" zeigt diese Aufnahme der europäischen Sonde "Mars Express". Die gefurchten Gesteinsrücken am Talboden werden Yardangs genannt und entstehen durch Winderosion.

Das "Marsgesicht" in einer neuen Aufnahme: ein erodierter Tafelberg. (Foto: esa)

Das ist die legendäre Aufnahme der Viking-Sonde vom "Marsgesicht" aus den siebziger Jahren. (Foto: nasa)

Das Bild zeigt einen Wasseraustritt in einem Krater auf dem Mars. (Foto: nasa)

Der größte Vulkan im Sonnensystem, Olympus Mons, ist 21 Kilometer hoch und liegt auf dem Mars. (Foto: nasa)

Die Caldera von Olympus Mons - so bezeichnen Wissenschaftler den Einsturzzone an der Spitze des Vulkans. Die hintere Absturzkante ist vier Kilometer hoch. (Foto: esa)

(Foto: nasa)

22 September 2008 Scientists are now able to better explain why Mars’s residual southern ice cap is misplaced, thanks to data from ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft - the martian weather system is to blame. And so is the largest impact crater on Mars – even though it is nowhere near the south pole.

Mars Express acquires sharpest images of martian moon Phobos

30 July 2008
Mars Express closed in on the intriguing martian moon Phobos at 6:50 CEST on 23 July, flying past at 2.96 km/s, only 100 km from the centre of the moon. The ESA spacecraft’s fly-bys of the moon have returned its most detailed full-disc images ever, also in 3-D, using the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board.

Phobos is what scientists call a ‘small irregular body’. Measuring 27 km × 22 km × 19 km, it is one of the least reflective objects in the Solar System, thought to be a captured asteroid or a remnant of the material that formed the planets.

Article Images
Echus Chasma

14 July 2008

Echus Chasma, nadir view
The High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express has returned images of Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on the Red Planet. Echus Chasma is the source region of Kasei Valles which extends 3000 km to the north. The data was acquired on 25 September 2005. The pictures are centred at about 1° north and 278° east and have a ground resolution of approximately 17 m/pixel.

Mars Express is a space exploration mission being conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Mars Express mission is exploring the planet Mars, and is the first planetary mission attempted by the agency.

Some of the instruments on the orbiter, including the camera systems and some spectrometers, reuse designs from the failed launch of the Russian Mars 96 mission in 1996 (European countries had provided much of the instrumentation and financing for that unsuccessful mission). The basic design of Mars Express is based on ESA's Rosetta mission, on which considerable sum was spent on development. The same design was also used for the Venus Express mission in order to increase reliability and reduce development cost and time.

The spacecraft was launched on June 2, 2003 at 23:45 local time (17:45 UT, 1:45 p.m. EDT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, using a Soyuz-Fregat rocket. The Mars Express and Fregat booster were initially put into a 200 km Earth parking orbit, then the Fregat was fired again at 19:14 UT to put the spacecraft into a Mars transfer orbit. The Fregat and Mars Express separated at approximately 19:17 UT. The solar panels were then deployed and a trajectory correction maneuver was performed on June 4 to aim Mars Express towards Mars and allow the Fregat booster to coast into interplanetary space

The Beagle 2 lander component of Mars Express, as it would have appeared on the Martian surface.

The Beagle 2 lander was released on December 19 at 8:31 UTC (9:31 CET) on a ballistic cruise towards the surface. It entered Mars' atmosphere on the morning of 25 December. Landing was expected to occur at about 02:45 UT on 25 December (9:45 p.m. EST 24 December). However, after repeated attempts to contact the lander failed Mars Express and the NASA Mars Odyssey orbiter, it was declared lost on February 6, 2004, by the Beagle 2 Management Board. On February 11, ESA announced an inquiry would be held into the failure of Beagle 2

On May 4, 2005, Mars Express deployed the first of its two 20-metre-long radar booms for its MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) experiment. At first the boom didn't lock fully into place; however, exposing it to sunlight for a few minutes on May 10 fixed the glitch. The second 20 m boom was successfully deployed on June 14. Both 20 m booms were needed to create a 40 m dipole antenna for MARSIS to work; a less crucial 7-meter-long monopole antenna was deployed on June 17. The radar booms were originally scheduled to be deployed in April 2004, but this was delayed out of fear that the deployment could damage the spacecraft through a whiplash effect. Due to the delay it was decided to split the four week commissioning phase in two parts, with two weeks running up to July 4 and another two weeks in December 2005.

For more than 5000 orbits, Mars Express Payload instruments have been nominally and regularly operated. HRSC camera has been stubbornly mapping the Martian surface with unprecedented resolution and has taken dozens of breath-taking pictures.


* January 23
o ESA announced the discovery of water ice in the South Polar ice cap, using data taken on January 18 with the OMEGA instrument.
* January 28
o Mars Express Orbiter reaches final science orbit around Mars.

* March 17
o Orbiter detects polar ice caps that contain 85% highly carbon dioxide (CO2) ice and 15% water ice.

* March 30
o A press release announces that the orbiter has detected methane in the Martian atmosphere. Although the amount is small, about 10 parts in a thousand million, it has excited scientists ask about its source. Since methane is removed from the Martian "air" very fast, there needs to be a current source that releases fresh methane still today. Because one of the possible sources could be microbial life, it is planned to verify the reliability of this data and especially watch for difference in the concentration in various places on Mars. It is hoped that the source of this gas can be discovered by finding its location of release.

* April 28
o ESA announced that the deployment of the boom carrying the radar based MARSIS antenna was delayed. It described concerns with the motion of the boom during deployment, which can cause the spacecraft to be struck by elements of it. Further investigations are planned to make sure that this will not happen.

* July 15
o Scientists working with the PFS instrument announced that they tentatively discovered the spectral features of the compound ammonia in the Martian atmosphere. Just like methane discovered earlier (see above), ammonia breaks down rapidly in Mars' atmosphere and needs to be constantly replenished. This points towards the existence of active life or geological activity; two contending phenomena whose presence so far have remained undetected.


* In 2005, ESA scientists reported that the OMEGA (Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer)(Observatoire pour la Minéralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activité) instrument data indicates the presence of hydrated sulphates, silicates and various rock-forming minerals.

* February 8
o The delayed deployment of the MARSIS antenna has been given a green light by ESA . It is planned to take place in early May 2005.

* May 5
o The first boom of the MARSIS antenna was successfully deployed . At first, there was no indication of any problems, but later it was discovered that one segment of the boom did not lock . The deployment of the second boom was delayed to allow for further analysis of the problem.
* May 11
o Using the Sun's heat to expand the segments of the MARSIS antenna, the last segment locked in successfully .
* June 14
o The second boom was deployed, and on June 16 ESA announced it was a success .
* June 22
o ESA announces that MARSIS is fully operational and will soon begin acquiring data. This comes after the deployment of the third boom on June 17, and a successful transmission test on June 19.

* July 28

These image, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), show a patch of water ice sitting on the floor of an unnamed crater near the Martian north pole.


* September 21

ESA's Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) has obtained images of the Cydonia region, the location of the famous "Face on Mars". The massif became famous in a photo taken in 1976 by the American Viking 1 Orbiter. The image recorded with a ground resolution of approximately 13.7 metres per pixel.

* September 26

The Mars Express spacecraft has emerged from an unusually demanding eclipse season introducing a special, ultra-low-power mode nicknamed 'Sumo' - an innovative configuration aimed at saving the power necessary to ensure spacecraft survival. This mode was developed through tight teamwork between ESOC mission controllers, principal investigators, industry and mission management.

* October

In October 2006 the Mars Express spacecraft has encountered a superior solar conjunction (alignment of Earth-Sun-Mars Express). The angle Sun-Earth-MEX reached a minimum on 23-Oct at 0.39 deg. at a distance of 2.66 AU. Operational measures were undertaken to minimize the impact of the link degradation, since the higher density of electrons in the solar plasma heavily impacts the radio frequency signal. More on

* December

Following the loss of NASA JPL Mars spacecraft Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), Mars Express team was requested to perform actions in the hopes of visually identifyng the American spacecraft. Based on last ephemeris of MGS provided by JPL, the on-board high definition HRSC camera swept a region of the MGS orbit. Two attempts were made to find the craft, both unsuccessful.


* January

First agreements with NASA-SPL undertaken for the support of Mars Express on the landing of the American lander Phoenix in May 2008

* February

The small camera VMC (used only once to monitor the lander ejection) has been recommissioned and first steps had been taken to offer students the possibility to participate in a campaign "Command Mars Express Spacecraft and take your own picture of Mars". Details to come.

* February 23

As result of the important science return, the Science Program Committee (SPC) has granted a mission extension until May 2009 to Mars Express.

* June 28

The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) has produced dramatic images of key tectonic features in Aeolis Mensae.

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