Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mars Express PFS spectrometer back at work

03.11.2005


The Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft is now back in operation after a malfunction, reported a few months ago.



The instrument had been successfully investigating the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere since the beginning of 2004, when Mars Express began orbiting the Red Planet. PFS is a very sensitive instrument, capable of measuring the distribution of the major gaseous components of the atmosphere, the vertical distribution of their temperature and pressure, and determining their variation and global circulation during the different Martian seasons.

PFS is also capable of detecting minor gaseous species and the presence of dust in the atmosphere and, during favourable observing conditions, even deducing the mineralogical composition of the soil.


PFS was the first instrument ever to make direct ’in situ’ measurements of methane in the atmosphere of Mars, and provided first indications of traces of formaldehyde, both candidate ingredients for life.

To identify the nature of chemical compounds of the Martian atmosphere and their physical status, PFS detects the distinctive infrared radiation re-emitted by different molecules when they are exposed to the light of the Sun.

The complex PFS instrument uses the interferometry technique, a high-precision measurement method in which beams of electromagnetic radiation are split and subsequently recombined after travelling different path-lengths. The beams interfere and produce an ‘interference pattern’.

This pattern, or ‘interferogram’, is then used to measure physical properties such as temperature, pressure and chemical composition.

The PFS instrument was unable to produce scientific data from July to September 2005. A series of tests and investigations took place between September and October this year.

The ‘pendulum motor’, used to drive various elements in the instrument optics, was shown to be at fault. The recovery was made possible through using internal instrument redundancy.

After switching to the instrument’s back-up motor, more powerful than the first one - the instrument has been shown to be able to produce science data just as before. Following this recovery activity, PFS will start to take new measurements routinely in early November 2005.

Fred Jansen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEM6N9638FE_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>