Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mars Express mission extended


ESA’s Mars Express mission has been extended by one Martian year, or about 23 months, from the beginning of December 2005.

The decision, taken on 19 October by ESA’s Science Programme Committee, allows the spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet to continue building on the legacy of its own scientific success. Co-ordinated from the beginning with the Mars science and exploration activities of other agencies, Mars Express has revealed an increasingly complex picture of Mars.

Since the start of science operations in early 2004, new aspects of Mars are emerging day by day, thanks to Mars Express data. These include its present-day climate system, and its geological ‘activity’ and diversity. Mars Express has also started mapping water in its various states.

In building up a global data set for composition and characteristics of the surface and atmosphere, Mars Express has revealed that volcanic and glacial processes are much more recent than expected.

It has confirmed the presence of glacial processes in the equatorial regions, and mapped water and carbon dioxide ice, either mixed or distinct, in the polar regions. Through mineralogical analysis, it found out that large bodies of water, such as lakes or seas, might not have existed for a long period of time on the Martian surface.

Mars Express has also detected methane in the Martian atmosphere. This, together with the possible detection of formaldehyde, suggests either current volcanic activity on Mars, or, more excitingly, that there are current active ‘biological’ processes.

This hypothesis may be reinforced by the fact that Mars Express saw that the distribution of water vapour and methane, both ingredients for life, substantially overlap in some regions of the planet.

Furthermore, the mission detected aurorae for the first time on the Red Planet. It has made global mapping of the density and pressure of the atmosphere between 10 and 100 kilometres altitude, and studied atmospheric escape processes in the upper layers of the atmosphere. This is contributing to our understanding of the weather and climate evolution of the planet.

There is still much to be discovered by the extraordinary set of instruments on board Mars Express. First, the 23-month extension will enable the Mars Express radar, MARSIS, to restart Martian night-time measurements in December this year.

MARSIS will continue its subsurface studies mainly in the search for liquid and frozen water. By combining subsurface, surface and atmospheric data, Mars Express will provide an unprecedented global picture of Mars and, in particular, its water.

So far, the High Resolution Stereo Camera has imaged only 19% of the Martian surface at high resolution. In the extended phase, it will be able to continue the 3D high-resolution colour imaging. After the Viking missions, Mars Express is building today’s legacy of Mars imagery for present and future generations of scientists.

Thanks to the extension, Mars Express will also be able to study for a second year the way the atmosphere varies during different seasons, and to observe again variable phenomena such as frost, fog or ice.

Finally, Mars Express will be able to revisit those areas where major discoveries, such as new volcanic structures, sedimentary layering, methane sources, nightglow and auroras, have been made, thus allowing to confirm and understand all aspects related to these discoveries.

Agustin Chicarro | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons
20.03.2018 | ITMO University

nachricht Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions
20.03.2018 | University of California - Berkeley

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: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>