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Andrew Gray

With regards to delaying Marsis deployment until Sharad turns up on MRO, this allows for the interesting potential of the two instruments operating from different spacecraft at the same time. I can't offhand see any reason that data gathered in both "areas" simultaneously is any more interesting than one set, then the other, a year or so apart... but there might be something that I'm not noticing there, it's more than possible. (it's not, by any stretch of the imagination, a field I know anything about, but...)

Lance Niederhaus

Here is an interesting article about the supposed water cycle on Mars.

Martian Obliquity Keeps Vast Glacial Cycles Moving
https://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-water-science-04l.html

Not being any sort of an expert myself, I would appreciate hearing your collective comments regarding the implications for this.
Thank you,
Lance

btw- Oliver Morton's book "Mapping Mars" is captivating, interesting and easy to understand for us non-scientists. Hope you write another one soon...

Lance Niederhaus


I was certain that the article about the martian water cycle I linked in my last post would have piqued the interest of some of the regulars on this blog, especially with the implications of how important and unfortunate it is that the marsis radar arm deployment has been indefinitely delayed. I would be extremely interested (and grateful) to see your comments and opinions on this.

Waiting for Reply,
Lance

Alex R. Blackwell

Larry, I agree that the delayed deployment, if ever, of Mars Express MARSIS has been a severe blow. It is clear that subsurface studies of Mars, especially in the near-polar regions, are the next logical step in trying to untangle the Mars water story. The Levrard et al. and Laskar et al. papers are interesting reads and only highlight this huge gap in our current knowledge.

Joj Reuben

One thing that might work in favour of the MARSIS deployment (despite the rumoured risks) is that Omega - the IR spectrometer - has a life limited cooler. If that does eventually fail (there is no backup on-board), then the small(?) risk of losing the entire mission might become one ESA is willing to take.
Although complementary data-sets from MARSIS and SHARAD might be useful, presumably the results are not likely to be time-dependant (at least over the scale of the mission lifetime). Some of the same teams are working on both so perhaps there is a motivation not to operate both simultaneously? From reading the specs the instruments do not overlap in the data they will collect (maximum 1km vs 50km depth) so perhaps the deployment of SHARAD in 2006 does not really affect the validity, relevance or timeliness of data from MARSIS?

Bruce Moomaw

New Scientist now reports ( https://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996509 ) that the decision has been made to deploy MARSIS next March. The latest ground tests are encouraging -- even in the worst case, the antennaas are unlikely to backlash with more than 1 kg of force -- but they're still erring on the side of caution.

Andre van Hooren

The article in the New Scientist doesn't say the decision has been made to deploy the radar. It says it will not be before March (if at all). In fact, all the computer simulations still have to be done.
The chief scientist William Johnson says : "But probably isn't good enough."
That does not bear very well. In fact, with Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter so close, competition between the Europeans and the Americans may play a role. The Americans are running the Marsis radar, and Jeff Plaut is both on the Marsis and the Sharad team. The European scientist on Marsis, Piero Biocca, works at Alenia Spazio, the maker of the Sharad instrument. Of course, the instruments are different, and everybody wants both of them to work well, but I think the Marsis team does not have the burning desire to be the first with Marsis. Johnson is slowly preparing us for waiting till MRO arrives, especially since the experiments have left some doubt over its safety.

Alex R. Blackwell

Andre van Hooren wrote:

The Americans are running the Marsis radar, and Jeff Plaut is both on the Marsis and the Sharad team. The European scientist on Marsis, Piero Biocca, works at Alenia Spazio, the maker of the Sharad instrument.

Alex Blackwell writes:

Since Giovanni Picardi of ‘La Sapienza’ University of Rome is the MARSIS Principal Investigator (PI), I'm not sure I would agree with your flat assertion that "The Americans are running the [MARSIS] radar." To be sure, Jeff Plaut is the MARSIS Co-PI, which ensure the U.S. (read JPL) has a prominent role in the instrument's operations. That said, however, the final decision on MARSIS deployment will be made by ESA and the Mars Express managers, not "the Americans."

Bruce Moomaw

It's most accurate to say that the New Scientist article indicates that MARSIS probably will be deployed next March -- the computer modelling is just an extension of the already-encouraging results from the tests. Still, I wouldn't be shocked if they decided to hold off until Mars Express has made one full Mars year of observations, in early 2006. I WILL be shocked if they decide never to risk deploying it at all.

J. Reuben

The article in New Scientist quotes Jeff Plaut and Will Johnson as stating that the final decision to deploy rests ultimately with ESA. This makes sense since it concerns the safety of an ESA spacecraft. JPL/Astro may have built the antenna but all decisions on spacecraft instruments ultimately rest with the PI, in this case G.Picardi (Rome).
With the pericenter latitude currently over the equator and climbing to reach the North Polar region in March 2005, combined with the prerequisite lack of daylight during MARSIS commissioning observations at that time, this does make for a perfect "window", which would not be repeated for at least 18 months. The observations are otherwise affected by the ionosphere (when illuminated by the Sun), and reliable calibrated data on where the water is might then be a long time coming?
Joj

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