ESA’s Mars Express Matches Methane Spike Measured by NASA’s Curiosity Rover

Artist’s impression of Mars Express. The background image is based on an actual image of Mars taken by the spacecraft’s high resolution stereo camera. Image credit: Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Mars: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

ROME, 1 April 2019 (ESA PR) — A reanalysis of data collected by ESA’s Mars Express during the first 20 months of NASA’s Curiosity mission found one case of correlated methane detection, the first time an in-situ measurement has been independently confirmed from orbit.

Reports of methane in the martian atmosphere have been intensely debated, with Mars Express contributing one of the first measurements from orbit in 2004, shortly after its arrival at the Red Planet.

(more…)

Geologic Evidence for Extensive Ground Water System on Mars

Artist’s impression of Mars Express. The background image is based on an actual image of Mars taken by the spacecraft’s high resolution stereo camera. Image credit: Spacecraft: ESA/ATG medialab; Mars: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

UTRECHT, The Netherlands (Utrecht University PR) — Utrecht University geologist Francesco Salese studied 24 low-lying areas distributed around the northern hemisphere of Mars. Satellite images have provided evidence of large volumes of simultaneous ground water activity connecting the areas. Salese has also found remains of deltas and coastlines on the planet’s surface. “These are strong indications that water was once present in these dried-up basins. There is no evidence that they had been filled from the surface, so upwelling ground water is the only remaining explanation. The deltas are all located at approximately the same elevation, so we are probably dealing with a ground water reservoir that spans the entire planet.”

(more…)

Mars Express Gets Festive: A Winter Wonderland on the Red Planet

Perspective view of Korolev crater (Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This image shows what appears to be a large patch of fresh, untrodden snow – a dream for any lover of the holiday season. However, it’s a little too distant for a last-minute winter getaway: this feature, known as Korolev crater, is found on Mars, and is shown here in beautiful detail as seen by Mars Express.

(more…)

Mars Express Detects Liquid Water Beneath Planet’s South Pole

Mars Express detects water buried under the south pole of Mars. (Credit: Context map: NASA/Viking; THEMIS background: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University; MARSIS data: ESA/NASA/JPL/ASI/Univ. Rome; R. Orosei et al 2018)

PARIS, 25 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Radar data collected by ESA’s Mars Express point to a pond of liquid water buried under layers of ice and dust in the south polar region of Mars.

Evidence for the Red Planet’s watery past is prevalent across its surface in the form of vast dried-out river valley networks and gigantic outflow channels clearly imaged by orbiting spacecraft. Orbiters, together with landers and rovers exploring the martian surface, also discovered minerals that can only form in the presence of liquid water.

(more…)

Beagle 2 Lander Found on Mars

Beagle 2 lander on Martian surface. (Credit: NASA)
Beagle 2 lander on Martian surface. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — The UK-led Beagle 2 Mars Lander, thought lost on Mars since 2003, has been found partially deployed on the surface of the planet, ending the mystery of what happened to the mission more than a decade ago. This find shows that the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sequence for Beagle 2 worked and the lander did successfully touchdown on Mars on Christmas Day 2003. Beagle 2 hitched a ride to Mars on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was a collaboration between industry and academia. It would have delivered world-class science from the surface of the Red Planet. Many UK academic groups and industrial companies contributed to Beagle 2.

(more…)

Phobos Downgraded From Solid Moon to Giant Rubble Pile

This image of Phobos’s surface was obtained by the Super Resolution Channel (or SRC, a part of the High Resolution Stereo Camera experiment) on board ESA’s Mars Express on 3 August 2008 (orbit 5889). The distance from the moon’s centre was 656 km, and the image resolution is 6 m/pixel. The original image has been corrected for mirror distortion. Credits: ESA/ DLR/ FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

ESA PRESS RELEASE

Mars Express encountered Phobos last night, smoothly skimming past at just 67 km, the closest any manmade object has ever approached Mars’ enigmatic moon. The data collected could help unlock the origin of not just Phobos but other ‘second generation’ moons.

Something is not right about Phobos. It looks like a solid object but previous flybys have shown that it is not dense enough to be solid all the way through. Instead, it must be 25-35% porous. This has led planetary scientists to believe that it is little more than a ‘rubble pile’ circling Mars. Such a rubble pile would be composed of blocks both large and small resting together, with possibly large spaces between them where they do not fit easily together.

(more…)

ESA Extends Mission to Mars, Venus and Earth

ESA MISSION UPDATE

ESA’s Science Programme Committee has extended the operations of ESA’s Mars Express, Venus Express and Cluster missions until 31 December 2009. The decision to extend the three successful missions was taken on 4 February this year. 

(more…)

Groundwater Springs Played Key Role in Shaping Mars

ESA PRESS RELEASE

Data and images from Mars Express suggest that several Light Toned Deposits, some of the least understood features on Mars, were formed when large amounts of groundwater burst on to the surface. Scientists propose that groundwater had a greater role in shaping the martian surface than previously believed, and may have sheltered primitive life forms as the planet started drying up.

(more…)

ESA’s Mars Express Maps Aurorae on Mars


An artist’s impression of how the ‘green’ aurorae may look to an observer orbiting on the night-side of Mars. Credits: M. Holmström (IRF)

ESA MISSION UPDATE

Scientists using ESA’s Mars Express have produced the first crude map of aurorae on Mars. These displays of ultraviolet light appear to be located close to the residual magnetic fields generated by Mars’s crustal rocks. They highlight a number of mysteries about the way Mars interacts with electrically charged particles originating from the Sun.
 
The aurorae on Mars were discovered in 2004 using the SPICAM ultraviolet and infrared atmospheric spectrometer on board Mars Express. They are a powerful tool with which scientists can investigate the composition and structure of the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

(more…)

Mars Express Photographs Universe’s Largest Known Potato; Best Images Ever of Hideously Misshapen Moon

ESA MISSION UPDATE
30 July 2008

Mars Express closed in on the intriguing martian moon Phobos at 6:49 CEST on 23 July, flying past at 3 km/s, only 93 km from the moon. The ESA spacecraft’s fly-bys of the moon have returned its most detailed full-disc images ever, also in 3-D, using the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board.

Phobos is what scientists call a ‘small irregular body’. Measuring 27 km × 22 km × 19 km, it is one of the least reflective objects in the Solar System, thought to be a capture-asteroid or a remnant of the material that formed the planets.

The best images of Phobos ever

The HRSC images, which are still under processing, form a bounty for scientists studying Phobos. They are a result of observations carried out over several close fly-bys of the martian moon, performed over the past three weeks. At their best, the pictures have a resolution of 3.7 m/pixel and are taken in five channels (in the stereo channel) for images in 3-D and (in the photometric channels) to perform analyses of the physical properties of the surface.

(more…)

ESA Breaks on Through to the “Third Dimension” on Mars

ESA PRESS RELEASE

ESA’s Mars Express radar sounder, MARSIS, has looked beneath the martian surface and opened up the third dimension for planetary exploration. The technique’s success is prompting scientists to think of all the other places in the Solar System where they would like to use radar sounders.

No matter how accurate a camera is, it can only map a planet’s surface. To retrieve information about the underground realm, planetary scientists in the past would have thought it necessary to land on the surface and start digging.

But that would only be good for a single spot on a large planet and the first few decimetres of the surface. To get the global picture of the subsurface they need a radar sounder, such as the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS), to find the best spots for the future landers to go and dig.

MARSIS is built to map the distribution of liquid and solid water in the upper portions of martian crust. If reservoirs of water are detected, it will help us understand the hydrological, geological, climatic and possibly biological evolution of Mars. The radar experiment works because every time a radar wave crosses a boundary between different substances, it generates an echo that the orbiter detects.

(more…)