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 Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation
12.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

nachricht Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy
12.12.2017 | International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>