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

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik

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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>