Europe towards Mars

Irazabalbeitia, Inaki

kimikaria eta zientzia-dibulgatzailea

Elhuyar Fundazioa

Ilargia and Martitz are no longer just scientific. In recent months they have become mainstream news in the media. The Mars Explorer, the Mars Earth Global Meter and the Moon Prospector have been domesticated.

The Explorer of Mariz last transmitted the data on September 27 of last year, but scientists have only begun to process the avalanche of information issued until then. 1,650 images and eleven data are a precious treasure that in the future completes and remodels our image of Mars.

The Global Land Meter will begin work later than expected. Structural problems in one of the ship's solar panels have forced NASA technicians to perform a slower aerobication maneuver. Therefore, a year later it will begin to map the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, on Mars the Global Land Meter will not be lethargic and the probe's scientific team will work on collecting data from Martitz.

Europe does not want to stop at the exploration of Mars. The failure of the Russian-led Martitz 96 mission was a disaster for European planetary scientists as first-hand data on Martitz escaped. In order to cover this gap, ESA, European Space Agency, is studying the mission called Martitz Espres, which would begin in May or June 2003.

Of course, the mission structure remains undefined and ESA has called on European planetary scientists to limit the experiments they would attend there. However, from the current perspective, the Martitz Espres mission consists of an orbiter and lander modules from one to three.

The mission has great objectives. It is about collecting data to complete the geological history of Mars, in order to elaborate a history of water content and to define paleoclimates. In addition, the aim is to study the upper surface of the planet at a kilometer depth, in search of water and ice, among others. It is also intended to investigate the internal structure of the planet. There are currently very few data on the lithosphere, mantle and Mars area, as well as their relationship. The position of Mars will also be studied in the set of planets and terrestrial bodies.

On the other hand, the study of the Martian atmosphere and the mineralogical and geochemical composition of the surface is one of the main objectives.

The Martitz Espres probe will be launched through a Soiuz type launcher, which will allow loading 1,100 kg on the Martitz road. In 200 days you will reach the red planet.

The mission study Martitz Espres began in June 1997, so the mission definition has only begun. In December 1997, a “call for opportunities” was held among planetary scientists, which closed on February 24, 1998. By the end of May, the scientific load of the orbiter and the lander modules, that is, the instrument, will be defined. Finally, at the end of November this year ESA will decide whether to launch it.

Europeans also have closer to Martitz.

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