First Mars Express hardware delivered
23 January 2000The Mars Express project has moved from the drawing board to the test bench. The first piece of hardware, a unit for the on-board computer, has been delivered to the prime contractor, Matra Marconi Space (MMS), Toulouse.
The unit is the CDMU (control and data management unit) and Saab Ericsson Space manufactures it. The unit model that has been delivered to MMS is called a breadboard, which indicates that it is for test purposes. (Historically, the electronic components would have been mounted on a wooden board, hence the name). It is one element of the EFVB (electrical function verification test bench) which will test the entire on-board data handling system. The breadboard models of the CDMU plus three other units make up the EFVB. As part of the policy to economise by exploiting the synergy between Mars Express and Rosetta, both spacecraft share the same design for the on-board data handling system. Each mission, however, has different test objectives because each has different requirements of the data handling system. The need to start testing is presently more urgent for Rosetta, so Mars Express is lending the CDMU breadboard to the Rosetta team until mid-February, after which testing for Mars Express will begin in earnest.