Eve of Mars
This dynamic pair of spacecraft is the result of much hard work by the technical and scientific teams across Europe. Parts of the Mars Express were built in a number of countries and then integrated at Astrium, an aerospace company in France. The Beagle 2 lander, Britain's contribution to the mission, was also built by Astrium. After a successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazhakstan, the mission team began their even more hectic schedule, training for mission operations and preparing for Mars arrival. In order to be ready for any problem that could surface, the engineering team at ESOC, Germany, home of the Mars Mission Operations Centre, practiced various scenarios. Simulation Officer Zeina Mounzer, for each test, planted errors, failures, alarms and anything possibly imaginable to make the engineering team think hard and come about a solution to save the mission. This way, the team encounters in "real-time" problems that may occur so that they can sort out their strengths, weaknesses and test their preparedness. The tests increase in difficulty and when they are over, the team knows they are ready as they will ever be.
But there is light joviality during this busy time. Mars Express is set to arrive at Mars on Christmas Day and there isn't a better Christmas than seeing their creation beaming back a healthy signal, saying, "we've made it!" A little plush beagle mascot (with solar flare protective sunglasses, of course!) looks upon the people at mission control, now a family, with fingers crossed for one thing only. Presents might be replaced with bits of wonderful data and a comfy couch by the warm mantlepiece with a computer console, but the Mars Express team would not have it any other way. Their baby, the Mars Express, has reached its red Christmas Star, ushering in a new era of planetary exploration.
Imagiverse wishes best of luck to the Mars Express Team and to all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and great joy in the upcoming year.
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Links of Interest
- 21 December 2003
22 December 2003
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