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Instrumentation on Mars Express

High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC)

HRSC The HRSC will map the entire planet in full colour, 3 dimensions and with a resolution of 10 metres. Images of specific areas will be acquired with a resolution of 2 metres. One of the greatest advantages of this camera is the unparalleled precision, which is obtained by combining images of both resolutions. Another advantage will be the 3 dimensional presentation of the topography of Mars in true colour.

OMEGA Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces et l'Activite(Visible and Infred Spectrometer for Mineralogical Mapping)

OMEGA OMEGA will provide a surface structure map, divided into quadrants of 100 metres in length. It examines the mineral composition of the surface by analyzing the light being reflected from the planet’s surface. For this purpose, the wavelengths ranging from 0.5 to 5.2 microns will be employed. Since the reflected light must pass through the atmosphere before reaching the orbiting sensor, OMEGA is also measuring certain aspects of the atmospheric composition.

SPICAM Spectrocopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars

SPICAM SPICAM is determining the atmospheric composition by examining the wavelengths of light after the effect of absorption by gases in the atmosphere took place. Ozone, which is absorbing light with a wavelength of 250 nanometres, is measured by an ultraviolet sensor, while water vapour, absorbing light with a wavelength of 1.38 microns, is measured using an infrared sensor.

Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS)

PFS The PFS is acquiring data on the composition of the Mars atmosphere by analyzing the wavelengths of sunlight (1.2 to 45 microns) absorbed by molecules in the atmosphere. Furthermore, the PFS is analyzing the infrared radiation emitted by these molecules. In particular, PFC is measuring the vertical pressure and temperature profile of carbon dioxide, which is the most abundant gas (95 %) in the Mars atmosphere. In addition, the sensor is looking for rare components in the atmosphere, such as water, carbon monoxide, methane and formaldehyde.

ASPERA Analyser of Space Plasma and Energetic Atoms

ASPERA ASPERA measures ions, electrons and high energy neutral atoms in the outer atmosphere to establish the amount of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the atmosphere, which are interacting with solar winds. It seems that the constant bombardment by charged particles originating from the sun caused the loss of the Martian atmosphere. The absence of a global magnetic field, which would divert the solar winds, might have led to a constant depletion of the planet's atmosphere by interaction with the molecules.

MaRS Mars Express Orbiter Radio Science

MARS MaRS is utilizing radio signals used to transmit data to Earth to examine the planet’s ionosphere, the atmosphere, the surface and even subsurface structures. Information regarding the inner makeup of the planet is collected by studying the planet’s gravitational field. The data is acquired by analyzing changes of the orbiter’s velocity as it passes over different areas of the planet’s surface. Analyzing the reflected radio waves from the surface provides an indication of the roughness of the terrain.

MARSIS Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding

MARSIS MARSIS will map subsurface structures to a depth of several kilometres. An antenna measuring 40 metres in length will send low frequency radio signals to the planet’s surface. These signals will be reflected by any surface they encounter. For most, this will be the surface of Mars, but a significant amount of the radio signals will penetrate the surface to be reflected at sub-surface interfaces between layers of different material, including water or ice.


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