Mars Express Status Report - January 2009
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.
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.