Image credit: ESA
The European Space Agency has been testing all aspects of the Mars Express spacecraft to ensure that it’s ready for its encounter with Mars. This week they put the UK-built Beagle 2 lander through its paces. The tests included uploading software and turning various instruments on and off, and everything seems to be working properly. A final series of tests will be done in mid-July. Mars Express is expected to reach the Red Planet on December 19 – Beagle 2 will land on the surface on December 25.
On Friday 4 July, and Saturday 5 July 2003, engineers successfully carried out overnight tests on the Mars Express lander, Beagle 2.
Ground controllers at the European Space Agency’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, contacted Mars Express at the weekend to carry out the tests on the lander, which were rescheduled from two weeks ago. These functional tests included uploading software and switching units on and off.
With these tests, the near-Earth phase of the Mars Express payload check-outs is almost complete. All instruments, including the lander, have performed as expected. Star calibration of some instruments is scheduled for mid-July, which marks the first attempt to make scientific measurements. This will also be done in the same way when nearer to Mars.
Rudi Schmidt, ESA Mars Express Project Manager, said: “This check-out was a marvellous example of complete cooperation between ESA?s Mars Express and the Beagle lander teams Another major milestone has been achieved successfully. What a fantastic feeling!”
Original Source: ESA News Release