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Mars Camera Experiment Funded with 2.64 Million Euros

Planetologists of Freie Universität Berlin Granted Federal Funding for Three More Years

№ 353/2009 from Dec 04, 2009

The research division Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing under Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum at the Institute of Geological Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin will receive additional funding amounting to 2.64 million euros over the next three years. The new funding will be used to support the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on the Mars Express mission of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The so-called Mars camera was designed by Gerhard Neukum, Professor of Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing at Freie Universität. The funds are provided through the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology / German Aerospace Center (DLR Space Agency). Moreover, for the period from November 1, 2009, through December 31, 2009, the planetary scientists obtained an increase of around 71,600 euros.

Since January, 2004, the spacecraft Mars Express has been orbiting our red planetary neighbor, providing important visual and measured data, for instance on the climate history, morphology, and topography as well as volcanic and fluvial, glacial history of Mars. Based on the recordings of the stereo camera, the planetary scientists have developed a high-resolution terrain model that already covers 56 percent of the surface of Mars at a lateral resolution of 10-20 m / pixel in stereo and color. This is comparable to about 56 percent of the continental area of all the continents of the Earth.

The researchers expect that the extension of the HRSC project until 2012 will enable them to map 100 percent of Mars in 3D. In this project the group at Freie Universität works closely with the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof. The latter performs the camera operation and the systematic processing of the HRSC data.

With the financial support from the German Aerospace Center, it will be possible to continue pursuing the main objective, the study of the geological evolution of Mars through the collection and provision of photometrically fully corrected color orthophoto data and digital elevation data with high spatial resolution in a Mars-wide context. In addition, these data will form a basis for future missions to Mars, in particular for use with landers and rovers. The evaluation of the experiment and the data will be carried out under the direction of the designer of the Mars camera, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum of Freie Universität Berlin, in cooperation with DLR Berlin, the Institute of Planetary Research, and an international team of scientists from 45 institutions and ten countries.

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