OMEGA Visible and Infrared Mineralogical Mapping Spectrometer on board Mars Express - Credits: ESA
The first of the two radio-sounding proficiency tests (see my earlier blog entry on the critical radio science experiments) was completed in the night from 22/23 Feb, and went very well. The second test is scheduled for tonight (24.02), and if no problems are encountered, then Mars Express is all set for probing the moon's gravity field with unprecedented accuracy.If Phobos really were an ancient space ship of a long forgotten civilization, we could then see how much fuel the former owners of this ancient space asset would have had left, and where the fuel tanks would have been located! :-) (More details after the jump.) -- Hannes
More likely however - and not the least bit less interesting, I should add - is the discovery of important clues to Phobos' formation in the rubble of the early Solar System.
To conduct the optical and subsurface radar observations mentioned in my earlier blog, another flyby is planned for Sunday, 7 March, at a distance of 120 km. The spacecraft's MARSIS radar together with the excellent HRSC camera will be used for this event, along with the powerful OMEGA infrared observatory and the ASPERA atoms and plasma experiment - to 'sniff out' Phobos for any possible influence on the near-Mars environment.
Access in-depth technical details and images in the ESA Sci-tech website:
Yesterday, I completed the mission analysis for this exciting week and we got 'green lights' from the team to go ahead: from the power engineer who had to okay the power usage, the TT&C (telemetry & telecommanding) subsystem engineer who had to cross-check my transmitter switching scheme, and - of course - from Michel Denis, ESA's Spacecraft Operations Manager, who reviews everything - especially when any plans are out of the line of normal operations.
Today I will finalise the telecommand generation for the spacecraft as well as the tracking station commanding for the various deep space antennas that are committed to support our comign activities.