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Mars Express Status Report - January 2009

02 February 2009

Mission Status

Much effort was needed in preparation for the 2008 eclipse season which, once again, was almost coincident with Mars being furthest from the Sun; making it an operationally very challenging period for the Mars Express mission.

Mars Express successfully supported the Phoenix Entry-Descent-Landing (EDL) into the Mars atmosphere in May 2008, as requested by NASA.

To prevent the Mars Express orbit from evolving into one which is no longer best suited to support all of the Mars Express science goals, a further orbit manoeuvre was executed in December 2008.

Science Highlights

The first release of unprecedented high-resolution (50 m) HRSC derived digital terrain data was made on 5 February 2008. The HRSC stereo camera has covered almost half of the Mars surface at unprecedented detail.

A joint ASPERA-SPICAM-MARSIS study on auroras suggests that the crustal magnetic fields, when organized into a specific structure, can trigger the auroras identified by the UV spectrometer.

A number of very close encounters with Phobos occurred in July 2008. On 17 July, the distance was 274 km. This close pass allowed the radio-science experiment to derive the mass of the moon very accurately, by measuring the small Doppler shift of the transmitted signal from the spacecraft to Earth. One week later, at a closest approach of less than 100 km, HRSC acquired the sharpest images ever.

The MARSIS team published results on the first-ever subsurface probing of the south polar layered deposits (SPLD) which reveals an internal structure rich in detail, such as the presence of a possible ice-rich layer on the Prometheus basin floor extending to 500-m depth.

Legal disclaimer
This report is based on the December 2008 Council submission. Please see the copyright section of the legal disclaimer (bottom of this page) for terms of use.

Last Update: 13 July 2010

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