Spanish technology operating on Mars
The Astrobiology Centre, (CAB), part of Spain’s Aerospace Institute, (CSIC-INTA), has provided the weather monitoring station on Rover, the Mars Science Laboratory, which has just landed on the red planet.
Scientists at CAB worked long and hard to develop the extremely sophisticated equipment and are proud that it was used on the rover and is already gathering data from the planet’s surface.
The Rover Environmental Monitoring Station will measure and provide daily and seasonal reports on atmospheric pressure, humidity, ultraviolet radiation on the Martian surface, wind speed and direction, air temperature, and ground temperature around the rover.
Two small booms on the rover mast will record the horizontal and vertical components of wind speed to characterise air flow near the Martian surface from breezes, dust devils, and dust storms. A sensor inside the rover’s electronic box will be exposed to the atmosphere through a small opening and will measure changes in pressure caused by different meteorological events such as dust devils, atmospheric tides, and cold and warm fronts. A small filter will shield the sensor against dust contamination.
A suite of infrared sensors on one of the booms (Boom 1) will measure the intensity of infrared radiation emitted by the ground, which will provide an estimate of ground temperature. These data will provide the basis for computing ground temperature. A sensor on the other boom (Boom 2) will track atmospheric humidity. Both booms will carry sensors for measuring air temperature.
An array of detectors on the rover deck that are sensitive to specific frequencies of sunlight will measure ultraviolet radiation at the Martian surface and correlate it with changes in the other environmental variables.
Operational plans call for taking measurements with the Spanish made equipment for at least five minutes every hour of the full-Martian-year mission, some 98-weeks.
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