Thanks to a manoeuvre performed on 10 May 2005 at 20:20 CET, ESA flight controllers have successfully completed the deployment of the first boom of the MARSIS radar on board ESAs Mars Express spacecraft.
Artists impression of MARSIS Boom 1 deployed
After the start of the deployment of the first 20-metre boom on 4 May, analysis by flight controllers at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany, had shown that although 12 out of the 13 boom segments were in place, one of the outermost segments, possibly No. 10, had deployed but was not locked into position. Deployment of the second (20 m) and third (7 m) booms was suspended pending a full analysis and assessment of the situation.
As prolonged storage in the cold conditions of outer space could affect the fibreglass and Kevlar material of the boom, the mission team decided to ‘slew’ (or swing) the 680 kg spacecraft so that the Sun would heat the cold side of the boom. It was hoped that as the cold side expanded in the heat, it would force the unlocked segment into place.
Fred Jansen | EurekAlert!
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