Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Space Travel News .




MARSDAILY
10 years on, Europe salutes its Martian scout
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) June 01, 2013


It was built on a relative shoestring, was completed in just five years and was designed to survive for just 687 days.

Ten years later, after more than 12,000 swings around the Red Planet, Europe's Mars Express is still going strong.

Along with NASA's massively successful fleet of probes and landers, the orbital scout has helped pull aside the veil of secrecy surrounding our sister planet.

It has pointed to the presence of subterranean water and a wild volcanic past and shed light on the bizarrely-pocked martian moons.

"The mission has already provided countless breathtaking views of Mars in three dimensions," says the European Space Agency (ESA).

"It has traced the history of water across the globe, demonstrating that Mars once harboured environmental conditions that may have been suitable for life."

The orbiter's seven instruments have detected minerals that form only in the presence of water and seen underground formations of water ice. Scans of the surface suggest volcanism on Mars may have persisted until recent times.

And its chemical analysis of the martian atmosphere indicates the possible presence of methane -- which on Earth is attributed to active volcanism and biological life.

The first European mission to explore another planet, Mars Express was launched from Baikonur cosmodrome by a Russian Soyuz rocket on June 2 2003, just when Earth and Mars were approaching their closest alignment in 17 years.

The mission ran into a humiliating setback that December with the crash of a small British-built lander, Beagle-2, whose loss remains unexplained to this day.

But the mission, designed to last for one martian year, has already been extended four times, and its latest closure date is for the end of 2014.

Mars Express is proving to be so sturdy that its builder, Astrium, believes it may even be around in January 2016 to welcome ExoMars, an unmanned European-Russian mission that will explore the methane enigma.

"Nobody would have believed it back then," says the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which developed what is arguably the star instrument aboard Mars Express: a stereoscopic camera that has imaged more than two-thirds of the planet in colour and 3D to a resolution of 20 metres (65 feet) per pixel.

Memorable images include Mars' icy southern pole and Olympus Mons which towers 26,000 metres (84,500 feet) above the surrounding plains.

Conceived as a streamlined, low-cost project, Mars Express was a gamble for ESA.

It broke with conventional thinking that planetary exploration required individually-tailored probes that took a decade to make and inevitably cost a billion bucks apiece.

To save costs, ESA's contractors essentially resorted to mass production.

The basic box-like design for Mars Express, and for a sister spacecraft called Venus Express -- launched in 2005 and also doing fine -- is the same platform as for Rosetta, a comet-chasing probe whose mission is due to climax next year.

So far, exploration of Mars has cost ESA 300 million euros ($390 million), which is minute for a mission that has returned such wonders.

And not a single life has been placed at risk.

Last week came proof that a manned trip to Mars would be health-threatening unless today's chemical rockets are replaced by much faster transport.

Measurements made aboard the Mars Science Laboratory, an unmanned NASA rover and mobile lab that landed in August 2012 showed exposure to high levels of radiation during its 253-day trip.

These are particles spewed out by the Sun, or coming from beyond our Solar System, that can slice through DNA and boost the risk of cancer.

"In terms of accumulated dose, it's like getting a whole-body CT scan once every five or six days," said Cary Zeitlin of the Southwest Research Institute's (SwRI) Space Science and Engineering Division.

"Radiation exposure at the level we measured is right at the edge, or possibly over the edge of what is considered acceptable in terms of career exposure limits defined by NASA and other space agencies."

.


Related Links
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





MARSDAILY
Landslides and lava flows at Olympus Mons on Mars
Paris (ESA) May 06, 2013
Giant landslides, lava flows and tectonic forces are behind this dynamic scene captured recently by ESA's Mars Express of a region scarred by the Solar System's largest volcano, Olympus Mons. The image was taken on 23 January by the spacecraft's high-resolution stereo camera, and focuses on a region known as Sulci Gordii, which lies about 200 km east of Olympus Mons. Sulci Gordii is an 'au ... read more


MARSDAILY
Rocket Engine Maker Proton-PM to Invest in New Products

Russia Launches European Telecoms Satellite

Ariane poised to launch first 20 ton payload into orbit

SES-6 Proton Breeze M Scheduled For Launch Monday

MARSDAILY
Leicester Scientist Helps Discover Ancient Streambed On Mars

10 years on, Europe salutes its Martian scout

War Of The Worlds: Looking Back on the Martian Apocalypse

Rounded Stones on Mars Evidence of Flowing Water

MARSDAILY
NASA's GRAIL Mission Solves Mystery of Moon's Surface Gravity

Moon dust samples missing for 40 years found in Calif. warehouse

Unusual minerals in moon craters may have been delivered from space

Moon being pushed away from Earth faster than ever

MARSDAILY
Planning Accelerates For Pluto Encounter

'Vulcan' wins Pluto moon name vote

Public to vote on names for Pluto moons

The PI's Perspective: The Seven-Year Itch

MARSDAILY
Big Weather on Hot Jupiters

Critical Kepler Reaction Wheel Fails: Mission End In Sight

Sifting Through the Atmosphere's of Far-Off Worlds

New Method of Finding Planets Scores its First Discovery

MARSDAILY
Girl expelled from school for exploding experiment going to space camp

New method for producing clean hydrogen

Adapter 'Flips' for Progress Toward 2014 Exploration Flight Test

ATK Hoping Tp Clean Up Rocketscience

MARSDAILY
Shenzhou-10 spacecraft to be launched in mid-June

Sizing Up Shenzhou 10

Rollout for Shenzhou 10

Soft Pedal for Shenzhou 10

MARSDAILY
New Images of Comet ISON Hurtling Toward the Sun

NASA Radar Reveals Asteroid Has Its Own Moon

NASA's WISE Mission Finds Lost Asteroid Family Members

Asteroid Sample Return Mission Moves into Development




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement