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 New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective
14.12.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht New ultra-thin diamond membrane is a radiobiologist's best friend
14.12.2017 | American Institute of Physics

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>