Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UK Goes Back to Mars with NASA

26.07.2005


On August 10th 2005 NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida beginning its journey to the red planet. For scientists from Oxford, Cardiff and Reading it will be an intense time as it will be their third attempt to get their instrument to Mars onboard a NASA spacecraft.



The main aim of the MRO mission is to seek out the history of water on Mars. This will be accomplished by a suite of six science instruments, 3 engineering experiments and 2 science facility experiments. They will zoom in for extreme close up images of the Martian surface, analyse minerals, look for subsurface water, trace how much dust and water are distributed in the atmosphere and monitor the daily global weather.

UK scientists, from Oxford, Cardiff and Reading Universities are involved in the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) instrument – essentially a weather satellite for Mars. It will profile the atmosphere of Mars detecting vertical variation in temperature, dust and water vapour concentration.


Professor Fred Taylor from Oxford University, who is a co-investigator on the Mars Climate Sounder, explains about why this mission means so much to his team.

“The Mars Climate Sounder is an updated version of a previous instrument (the Pressure Modulator Infrared Radiometer) that flew to Mars on NASA’s Mars Observer and Mars Climate Sounder missions in 1992 and 1999 respectively. Both of these missions were lost due to technical problems with the spacecraft, so this is a case of third time lucky, we hope!”

He adds, “The instruments are based on Earth observation instruments developed at Oxford in the 1980’s and early 1990’s with a significant amount of the hardware being built in the UK at Oxford, in collaboration with Cardiff and Reading Universities. The goal of the experiment is to measure temperature, water vapour and dust in the Martian atmosphere with high resolution and full global coverage over at least one full seasonal cycle (2 Earth years). The data will be analysed using computer models of the Martian climate, developed in a collaboration between Oxford University and Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique (LMD) in Paris over the last 20 years.”

By feeding the Mars data into the model, diagnostics, and even forecasts, of the Martian climate will be able to be made – using similar methods to those used in monitoring meteorology on Earth. This information will provide a much more detailed picture of the weather systems on Mars, especially the characteristics of the dust storms, all of which will be critical research for future lander missions.

Once reaching Mars in March 2006 MRO will undergo a 6 month period of “aerobraking” which will slow the spacecraft down in the Martian atmosphere taking it into a lower circular orbit for science data collection. Whilst the science operations are scheduled for 2 years the orbiter will be used for further data communication relay activities – up until December 2010. However, there will be enough propellant onboard to remain operational for a further 5 years in Mars orbit – if required to support future missions.

The UK already has a presence at Mars with UK scientists involved in three of the seven instruments on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express mission, which has been successfully orbiting Mars since December 2003. Since science operations began a wealth of data has been returned (including signs of a frozen sea and the detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere) along with many amazing images of Martian surface features. Data from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will compliment that from Mars Express – with the former as the name suggests, providing more detailed data for identifying potential future landing sites for robotic and manned missions.

Professor Keith Mason, the incoming Chief Executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) said, “Mars continues to be the prime focus for the next phase of planetary exploration both in the US and Europe. Through involvement in ESA’s Aurora programme UK space scientists and industrialists will play a key role in future robotic missions including in-situ analysis of the Martian soil”. Prof. Mason added,” The scientific returns from each mission continue to increase our knowledge of the Red Planet and it’s an exciting prospect that Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter could potentially help relay data from future European missions, confirming the international collaboration of space exploration”.

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/mro.asp
http://www.pparc.ac.uk

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: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>