ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft is progressing further every day on its journey to the Red Planet. Everything is set for arrival at Mars on the night of 25 December 2003, after a journey of about 400 million kilometres. In the weeks since its launch, engineers have started to thoroughly test the spacecraft and its equipment.
This testing phase is standard for all spacecraft on the way to their destination. Known as commissioning, it began 3 weeks after the launch. During this time, ground controllers sent signals to each of the orbiters seven instruments to switch them on and verify their health status.
As well as commissioning the instruments, the ground controllers also tested each of the spacecraft’s subsystems. There was a thrilling moment when one of the on-board computer memory units, known as the Solid State Mass Memory (SSMM), seemed to not respond properly during the instruments check-out. Good progress has been made on this issue in the last few days: a test involving all instruments was completed successfully by recording and recovering the data through the SSMM.
Rudi Schmidt | alfa
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