Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mars Express has the sophisticated science to find the water ice on Mars

31.05.2002


Artist’s impression of water under the Martian surface (ESA 2001. Illustration by Medialab)


Instruments on the Mars Express orbiter can observe selected areas of the Martian surface (ESA 2001. Illustration by Medialab)


"The presence of such a large amount of water ice under Mars`s surface is very surprising. Especially so close to the surface!" says Gerhard Schwehm, Head of the Planetary Missions Division at ESA. The team working on ESA`s Mars Express, the next mission to the Red Planet, is thrilled by NASA`s Mars Odyssey detection of hydrogen-rich layers under the Martian surface. This hydrogen indicates the presence of water ice in the top surface of the Martian soil in a large region surrounding the planet`s south pole. ESA`s Mars Express, ready for launching in June 2003, has the tools for searching much deeper below the surface, down to a few kilometres.

"Mars Express will give a more global picture of where the water is and how deep," says Patrick Martin, ESA deputy project scientist for the Mars Express mission.

The radar sounder on board Mars Express, MARSIS, will map the subsurface structure from a depth of about a hundred metres to as much as a few kilometres. This is in contrast with the Mars Odyssey, which can sense surface compositions to a depth of only one metre.



The cameras on Mars Express will map the minerals at a very high resolution and report how they are distributed on the Martian surface. This kind of data is crucial to understand the distribution of subsurface water. The other four instruments on board Mars Express (seven in total) will observe the atmosphere and reveal processes by which water vapour and other atmospheric gases could have escaped into space.

Knowing about the water distribution on and under the surface of Mars is essential, since water is needed for the appearance of life. Also, water distribution will help understand the geological history of the planet, and ultimately provide new clues about formation of our Solar System and evolution of Earth. Moreover, the presence of water puts mankind a step closer to the human exploration of the Red Planet. In its exciting Aurora programme, ESA is considering systems that could be used in future extraterrestrial human colonies or stations.

Search for life

Mars Express will also deploy a lander on Mars, called Beagle 2. Beagle 2 will parachute down to the Martian surface, probably close to the equator, and is especially equipped to look for signatures of life. It will do so both on and below the surface, since Mars`s harsh atmosphere would almost certainly have destroyed any evidence for life on the surface. Beagle 2 will use a `mole` to retrieve samples of soil to a depth of 1.5 metres, and will become the first lander to look directly for evidences of life on the Red Planet since NASA`s Viking in 1976.


Clovis De Matos | alphagalileo
Further information:
http://sci.esa.int

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors
20.07.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information
19.07.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>