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Europe and America Team Up For Joint Martian Research Effort

Mars Express is ready to add more data to this JPL and MSSS composite image that was used to guide Spirit to a safe landing.

Mars Express On Station And Hard At Work
Paris - Jan 19, 2004 - ESA's Mars Express spacecraft is currently in a near-final orbit around Mars with a period of 10 hours. Flight controllers are now isolating the main engine, which fired for the last time on 11 January, finishing its work on the mission after performing flawlessly.

To complete the manoeuvre into its final operational orbit, Mars Express will make a series of seven firings of its small thrusters, the first on 15 January and the last on the 26 January. The final orbital period will be 7.6 hours.

All instruments have successfully been switched on, and have started to deliver data (except for the boom deployment of the radar which is planned for April, in accordance with the science planning of the mission).

Paris - Jan 19, 2004
ESA's Mars Express orbiter flew almost directly over NASA's Spirit rover on at Gusev Crater on January 16 at an altitude of about 300 kilometres. Mars Express uses four instruments to look down, while Spirit looks up.

Mars Express will be looking down with its High Resolution Stereo Camera and three spectrometers: OMEGA for identifying minerals in infrared and visible wavelengths, and the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) and SPICAM for studying atmospheric circulation and composition. Spirit will be looking up with its panoramic camera and an infrared spectrometer.

Spirit's science team will be able to take advantage of the special possibilities presented by this pass of the European orbiter. The aim is to get observations from above and below at the same time to determine the dynamics of the atmosphere as accurately as possible.

The Mars Express observations are also expected to supplement earlier information from two NASA Mars orbiters about the surface minerals and geological features in Gusev Crater.

Dr Ray Arvidson, Deputy Principal Investigator for the science instruments on the Spirit rover, said: "This is an historic opportunity." Spirit's infrared spectrometer, the Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer (Mini-TES) can be used to assess the temperatures in the Mars atmosphere from the planet's surface to a height of several kilometres.

The Mars Express measurements are most sensitive for the upper atmosphere, while Spirit's measurements are most sensitive for the lower portion of the atmosphere.

Agustin Chicarro, ESA's Project Scientist for Mars Express, said: "This is the first time that two space agencies are co-operating on another planet with two spacecraft. It is remarkable to know that one is in orbit and one is on the surface, both taking measurements to complement each other."

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Spirit Heading To 'Home Plate'
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 09, 2006
Last week Spirit completed robotic-arm work on "El Dorado." The rover used all three of its spectrometers plus the microscopic imager for readings over the New Year's weekend.

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