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Mars Express forges collaboration with Japanese Mars mission

Mars Express forges collaboration with Japanese Mars mission

25 February 2001

International collaboration between Europe and Japan took a step forward last month when scientists building instruments for ESA's Mars Express mission travelled to Japan for a meeting with their counterparts on Nozomi, the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science's (ISAS) mission to Mars.

The First Nozomi - Mars Express Joint Science Workshop was held at ISAS, Sagamihara, Japan, on 24-26 January 2001. The two teams identified investigations they plan to do jointly and agreed that both senior scientists and young researchers from the other mission would join each instrument team. "There was a very fruitful atmosphere of cooperation and understanding between the scientists on the two teams, with members of both missions wanting to join the others' teams," said Agustin Chicarro, Mars Express Project Scientist.

ESA's Science Programme and ISAS are of similar size and the hope is that the collaboration will be the first of many. "We're looking to the long term. We want to base our relationship on friendship and mutual trust. For too long Europe and Japan have been looking for partners across different oceans. Now we realise that we're sitting at different ends of the same landmass," said Chicarro.

Nozomi already has significant international participation, with four of the mission's 14 scientific instruments having Principal Investigators from outside Japan. Only one of Mars Express's instruments has substantial involvement from outside Europe.

Nozomi will go into near equatorial orbit around Mars shortly after Mars Express enters polar orbit in December 2003. The presence of the two spacecraft in complementary orbits makes them ideal for joint investigations, especially of the atmosphere. Those planned at the meeting include simultaneous observations of the weather on Mars from the two vantagepoints.

Senior scientists and their post-graduate students are being chosen to join each instrument team. As the Mars Express instruments are now developed, the Japanese scientists will be involved in testing and calibration over the next few months and will contribute towards data analysis later on when Mars Express is in orbit. Nozomi has already been launched and is waiting in Earth orbit until it can make the journey to Mars in 2003. Hence European scientists on the Japanese teams will be largely involved with data reduction and processing after the spacecraft has arrived.

Nozomi and Mars Express scientists agreed to hold a workshop once a year to discuss joint progress. However, to get the collaboration off to a good start, an additional technical meeting will probably be held later this year.

Mars Express payload

Nozomi payload

HRSC - Super high resolution stereo colour imager

OMEGA - Infrared mineralogical mapping spectrometer

MARSIS - Sub-surface sounding radar/altimeter

PFS - Atmospheric Fourier spectrometer

SPICAM - IR and UV atmospheric spectrometer

ASPERA - Energetic neutral atom analyser

MaRS - Radio science experiment

BEAGLE 2 - Small lander with suite of imagers, organic and mineral chemical analysers, robotic sampling devices and meteorology sensors

MELaCom - Lander communications package

NMS - Neutral gas mass spectrometer

PET - Probe for electron temperature

TPA - Thermal plasma analyser

PWS - Plasma wave and sounder experiment

LFA - Low-frequency wave analyser

OCLT - Radio science experiment

MIC - Mars imaging camera

MDC - Mars dust counter

ISA - Low-energy ion spectrum analyser

ESA - Low-energy electron spectrum analyser

EIS - High-energy electron & ion spectrometer

XUV - Extreme ultraviolet spectrometer

MGF - Magnetic field measurement

UVS - Ultraviolet imaging spectrometer

IMI - Ion mass imager

Last Update: 1 September 2019
26-Sep-2021 19:26 UT

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