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Noctis Labyrinthus
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Noctis Labyrinthus, labyrinth of the night
These images taken by the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), onboard ESAs Mars Express imaged the Noctis Labyrinthus region, the labyrinth of the night on Mars.
The HRSC took these pictures on 25 June 2006 in orbit 3155, with a ground resolution of approximately 16 m/pixel.

Noctis

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spacer.gifCredits: ESA/ DLR/ FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

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RE: Mars Express
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On 25 December 2003, Europes first Mars orbiter arrived at the Red Planet. Almost four years later, Mars Express continues to rewrite the text books as its instruments send back a stream of images and other data. Today, the spacecraft reached another milestone in its remarkable career by completing 5000 orbits of Mars.
During its mission to investigate martian mysteries, the orbiter has revolutionised our knowledge of Mars, probing every facet of the Red Planet in unprecedented detail. Some of the most visually astonishing results have been returned by the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), which has produced breathtaking, 3D colour images of the diverse martian surface with giant volcanoes to sinuous valleys and ice-modified craters.

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With ESAs Mars Express, scientists continue to gain new insight into the mysterious Martian environment. Some of the most exciting results are being sent back by the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) experiment.
MARSIS transmits low frequency radio waves towards the planets surface and records the echoes of the different layers.
Although Mars is sometimes described as the most Earth-like of all the planets, there are many differences between the two worlds which scientists are trying to understand. One of the less familiar aspects of both planets is that they possess an ionosphere - a layer of ionised (electrically charged) particles - in their upper atmospheres.
Earths ionosphere has been studied intensively and is invaluable as a reflector of radio waves, but, until recently, little was known about the Martian ionosphere.

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Title: Mars Express/ASPERA-3/NPI and IMAGE/LENA observations of energetic neutral atoms in Earth and Mars orbit
Authors: M. Holmstrom, M.R. Collier, S. Barabash, K. Brinkfeldt, T.E. Moore, D. Simpson

The low energy neutral atom imagers on Mars Express and IMAGE have revealed that the neutral atom populations in interplanetary space come from a variety of sources and challenge our current understanding of heliospheric physics. For example, both in cruise phase and at Mars, the neutral particle instrument NPD on Mars Express observed "unexplained neutral beams" unrelated to Mars which appear to be either of heliospheric or solar wind origin. Likewise, the NPI instrument on Mars Express has revealed streams of neutral atoms with different properties than those observed by NPD. Independently, IMAGE/LENA has reported neutral atom observations that may be interpreted as a "secondary stream" having different characteristics and flowing from a higher ecliptic longitude than the nominal upstream direction. Both sets of observations do not appear to fit in easily with the neutral atom environment from 1.0-1.57 AU as it is currently understood. In this paper we examine some highly suggestive similarities in the IMAGE/LENA and Mars Express/ASPERA-3/NPI data to try to determine potential origins for the observed signal.

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ESAs Mars Express will keep an eye on NASAs Phoenix lander as it makes its way to the Martian surface, setting an example for international cooperation and interplanetary networking.
At NASAs request, ESAs Mars Express spacecraft will be following Phoenixs Entry Descent and Landing (EDL) phase.
The critical part of the descent lasts about 13 minutes. During this time, the probe will transmit a continuous stream of information to two of NASAs satellites already orbiting the Red Planet. To be on the safe side, NASA has requested Mars Express, which has been in orbit around Mars since December 2003, to also monitor the EDL phase.

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Tyrrhena Terra Impact Crater
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Tyrrhena Terra Impact Crater
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Tyrrhena Terra Impact Crater

Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESAs Mars Express obtained images of the Tyrrhena Terra region on Mars.
On 10 May 2007, the pictures of the region located at 18° South and 99° East were taken during orbit number 4294 with a ground resolution of approximately 15 metres per pixel.


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Tyrrhena Terra
 
Tyrrhena Terra
The Sun illuminates the scene from the south-west (top-left in the image).

Tyrrhena Terra is part of the ancient, heavily cratered southern Martian highlands. The region is located north of Hellas Planitia, the largest impact basin on Mars. The image scene exhibits three impact craters, located at the eastern border of Tyrrhena Terra with Hesperia Planum.


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Shared satellite architecture
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Shared satellite architecture enables more efficient mission control
Flight Control Teams for Mars Express and Venus Express now work side-by-side for key aspects of their routine activities. The close cooperation supports team spirit, cross-training and improved efficiency.
 Thanks to a common spacecraft architecture and use of standardised mission control software, spacecraft controllers from the Mars Express and Venus Express Flight Control Teams (FCTs) are now able to work in tandem, each providing support to both missions and boosting team cooperation.
The sharing enables reduced costs and better efficiency while maintaining reliability and boosting teamwork.

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MARSIS
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MARSIS Radar Estimates the Volume of Water in the South Pole of Mars
By studying the South Polar region of Mars, the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) radar of the Mars Express space probe has enabled the structure of the layered deposits of this region to be elucidated. For the first time in the history of planetary exploration, topographic maps of the Martian sub-soil have been produced, revealing considerable volumes of ice. The LPG (Grenoble Planetary Laboratory) (CNRS Université Grenoble 1) has been closely involved in processing and analysing data from the Marsis radar. These results were published on the website of the journal Science on March 15, 2007.
The Marsis low frequency radar has been designed so that its signals penetrate into the Martian sub-soil. Consequently, its radar signals can reach a depth of more than 3.7 km, which has made it possible to map the boundary between the layered deposits and the floor of the basin.
In addition, the study of the Marsis radar signal has revealed that the South Polar region of Mars, which has the shape of a giant dome of around 1000 km diameter, is mainly composed of ice. Another important result: highly variable distribution and depth of the ice deposits have been observed. In particular, a series of depressions of 50 to 200 km diameters and with a depth of around 1 km compared to the average level of the subsurface (sub-soil) have been identified at high latitudes. Thanks to the Marsis instrument, it has been possible to estimate the total volume of ice in this region at 1.6 million cubic kilometres. If this volume of ice was distributed in a uniform manner over the whole surface of the planet, Mars would be covered by 11 m of water.

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RE: Mars Express
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Mars is showing scientists its older, craggier face buried beneath the surface, thanks to a pioneering sounding radar co-sponsored by NASA aboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter.
Observations by the first project to explore a planet by sounding radar strongly suggest that ancient impact craters lie buried beneath the smooth, low plains of Mars' northern hemisphere. The technique uses echoes of waves that have penetrated below the surface.

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The Mars Express spacecraft has emerged from an unusually demanding eclipse season introducing a special, ultra-low-power mode nicknamed 'Sumo' - an innovative configuration aimed at saving the power necessary to ensure spacecraft survival.
This mode was developed through tight teamwork between ESOC mission controllers, principal investigators, industry and mission management.

In the past weeks, Mars Express faced an unusually demanding solar eclipse season running from end-August until late September. Eclipses are caused by the natural movements of the Earth and Mars - and Mars Express - around the Sun. During this period, the spacecraft spent as long as 75 minutes hidden from the Sun during each approximately 6-hour-long orbit about the Red Planet. During these 'blackouts', the solar panels generated no power and the spacecraft ran on battery power alone.

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