After 19 years of operation, the Mars Express orbiter received an update for its instrument, which is important for finding liquid water.
The European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express was launched into space in June 2003. All this time he has been working on software based on the architecture of Windows 98. Now, mission engineers have updated the software product of his MARSIS instrument, which searches for liquid water under the surface of Mars, reports Forbes.
The Mars Express spacecraft has been studying the atmosphere, surface and interior of Mars since 2003. According to mission specialists, despite the outdated software, this device has shown itself to be an excellent researcher.
Work will go better and faster
Now, an updated software product for his MARSIS instrument, which searches for liquid water under the surface of the Red Planet, will allow this instrument to work longer and cover larger areas for review.
“This upgrade will allow the MARSIS instrument to operate 5 times longer during a single turn on and explore a much larger area with each Mars Express flyby over Mars,” says Andrea Cicchetti of ESA.
Lake of water on Mars
One of the main achievements of the MARSIS instrument to date is that in 2018 it discovered a subglacial lake with salt water measuring 20 by 30 km on Mars. It is located 1.5 km below the surface of Mars in its south polar region.
The MARSIS instrument sends low-frequency radio waves to the planet, some of which are reflected, but some pass through the crust of Mars and are reflected from the boundaries between layers of various constituents: ice, rock and water. Thanks to this, scientists have already been able to look into the bowels of Mars for several kilometers and learn about the composition of the subsurface regions.
“Because the instrument will have a greater coverage of the regions under study, and will also receive clearer data, it is likely that MARSIS will detect more sources of liquid water on Mars,” says Cicchetti.
“The new software will help us more quickly explore regions on Mars where liquid water could exist. We can say that Mars Express has received new life thanks to an update 19 years after launch,” says ESA’s Colin Wilson.
Very cheap mission
According to scientists, the amount of important data that Mars Express provides about the Red Planet is not comparable to the cost of the mission itself. Indeed, until now, the flight and maintenance of the device remain one of the cheapest ESA projects.
With the help of the Mars Express orbiter, scientists are also studying regions where water may have existed in the past. Also, scientists, receiving new data, are trying to understand how the climate on Mars has evolved over several billion years.
A recent image of a region in the southern hemisphere of Mars called Aonia Terra showed that there are channels left that probably passed through the crater about 3.5 billion years ago.
As already wrote Focusscientists have discovered “honeycombs” on Mars and finally were able to explain the nature of this strange phenomenon.
Also Focus wrote that the Mars Express apparatus captured amazing landscape on mars. The photographs show huge craters that are located on the Utopia Plain.