Mars Express radar deployment postponed
29 April 2004ESA SNR 07-2004The MARSIS team has advised ESA to delay the deployment of the MARSIS radar instrument on board Mars Express, scheduled for this week. New and improved computer models suggest that, during deployment, the radar booms may swing back and forth with larger amplitudes than previously expected. If this happened, the booms might come too close to delicate components of the spacecraft body. Further simulations and tests are under way to better understand the situation.
The two main radar booms are 20-metre long hollow cylinders, of 2.5 centimetres diameter, folded up in a box like a concertina (accordion). When the box is opened, the elastic energy of the compressed glass-fibre booms will let them unfold like a jack-in-the-box.
After the booms spring out, they will eventually lock in a straight line, taking up the shape that they had before being folded into the box. The deployment procedure of each boom is expected to last about 10 minutes.
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