Mars Express PFS spectrometer back at work
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
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...