The Mars Express spacecraft of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) has received the first update to its Window 98-based system in 19 years.
The mission was first launched to discover of signs of liquid water on Mars, including a suspected 20x30km lake of salty water buried under 1.5 km of ice in the red planet’s southern polar region.
The updates were conducted by engineers from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), Italy, and were fully funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
The upgrade will enable probe to view Mars and it’s moon Phobos with better level of detail.
The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument on Mars Express sends low-frequency radio waves down towards the planet using its 40-metre long antenna.
Most of these waves are reflected from the planet’s surface, but significant amounts travel through the crust and are reflected at boundaries between layers of different materials below the surface, including ice, soil, rock, and water.
By examining the reflected signals, scientists can map the structure below the surface of Mars to a depth of a few kilometres and study properties such as the thickness and composition of its polar ice caps and the properties of volcanic and sedimentary rock layers.