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First MARSIS Boom Successfully Deployed

Date:
May 15, 2005
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Thanks to a manoeuvre performed on 10 May 2005 at 20:20 CET, ESA flight controllers have successfully completed the deployment of the first boom of the MARSIS radar on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.

This is an impression of how the first stage of deployment looks for the Mars Express MARSIS experiment. The 13 segments of the first 20-metre boom have sprung out and locked into place.
Credit: Image courtesy of European Space Agency

Thanks to a manoeuvre performed on 10 May 2005 at 20:20 CET, ESA flight controllers have successfully completed the deployment of the first boom of the MARSIS radar on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.

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After the start of the deployment of the first 20-metre boom on 4 May, analysis by flight controllers at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany, had shown that although 12 out of the 13 boom segments were in place, one of the outermost segments, possibly No. 10, had deployed but was not locked into position.

Deployment of the second (20 m) and third (7 m) booms was suspended pending a full analysis and assessment of the situation.

As prolonged storage in the cold conditions of outer space could affect the fibreglass and Kevlar material of the boom, the mission team decided to ‘slew’ (or swing) the 680 kg spacecraft so that the Sun would heat the cold side of the boom. It was hoped that as the cold side expanded in the heat, it would force the unlocked segment into place.

After an hour, Mars Express was pointed back to Earth, and contact re-established at 04:50 CET on 11 May. A detailed analysis of the data received showed that all segments had successfully locked and Boom 1 was fully deployed.

The operations to deploy the remaining two booms could be resumed in a few weeks, after a thorough analysis and investigation of the Boom 1 deployment characteristics.

The Mars Express Sub-Surface Sounding Radar Altimeter (MARSIS) experiment is to map the Martian sub-surface structure to a depth of a few kilometres. The instrument's 40-metre long antenna booms will send low frequency radio waves towards the planet, which will be reflected from any surface they encounter.

MARSIS is one of the seven science experiments carried on board Mars Express, one of the most successful missions ever flown to the Red Planet. Mars Express was launched on 2 June 2003 and entered Mars orbit in December 2003.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "First MARSIS Boom Successfully Deployed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050514141231.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2005, May 15). First MARSIS Boom Successfully Deployed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050514141231.htm
European Space Agency. "First MARSIS Boom Successfully Deployed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050514141231.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

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