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Getting Mars Express' instruments switched on

9 Dec 2011, 08:36 UTC
Getting Mars Express' instruments switched on
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Today's update comes courtesy of Jonathan Schulster, an engineer working on the Mars Express Mission Planning & Flight Control Team. Jonathan's in the Mars Express (MEX) Dedicated Control Room at ESOC this morning, where the first commands to switch on the ASPERA (Energetic Neutral Atoms Analyser) device were sent a few minutes ago. (ASPERA is studying the interaction between the solar wind and the Martian atmosphere.) -- Daniel

Jonathan writes:

To allow the mission to restart operations of all instruments, we needed to write 'macro' on-board control procedures (OBCPs) to replace long sequences of telecommands with single 'start macro' telecommands that would fit into the restrictive memory space provided by the short mission time-line (Basically, all commands now have to be a lot shorter to be stored on board now that the solid state mass memory no longer functions properly - Ed.).

The first OBCPs to switch ASPERA on and off, and its 'high voltage' lines up and down - along with on/off for PFS fourier spectrometer and the start/stop pre-heating for the OMEGA infrared (IR) spectrometer 'scanner' - were uplinked to Mars Express on Monday, 5 December. These must now be flight tested on the spacecraft.

The OMEGA pre-heating ...

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