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Mars Mission Funding Extended

Planetologists at Freie Universität Berlin Can Count on Funds until 2014

№ 365/2010 from Nov 26, 2010

The Mars Express space mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) has been extended to 2014. The Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing group under Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum at the Institute of Geological Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, can thus count on continued funding for its Mars camera experiment. This means annual funds of around 880,000 euros until 2014 alone for the high-resolution stereo camera (HRSC) project. The sum covers, among other things, the costs of equipment for seven full-time positions and four Ph.D. students.

As part of the space mission, since January 2004 the Mars Express space probe has been providing scientifically important images and data from Earth’s neighbor, the red planet Mars. The images and data give, for example, information about the climate history and the morphology of Mars. Professor Neukum said that, provided there are good weather conditions on Mars, the extension will enable his team to approach its goal of mapping the entire planet in three dimensions and in color. With the data from the stereo camera, the researchers from Freie Universität have been able to create a high-resolution terrain model that already covers 60 percent of the surface of Mars at a lateral resolution of 10 to 20 meters per pixel.

Originally, only a two-year mission duration was planned for the Mars Express mission. It is now already in its fourth extension phase. The spacecraft and its experiments have now been functioning considerably longer than the originally planned mission duration, which represents outstanding technical achievement by the European space industry and research institutions. Since the beginning of the mission, hundreds of scientific papers by members of the group have appeared in prestigious publications, including Science and Nature.

For further information, please contact:

• Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum, Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-70579, Email: gneukum@zedat.fu-berlin.de

• Dipl.-Geogr. Heike Balthasar
Tel.: +49 (0)30030 / 838-70555, Email: heike.balthasar@fu-berlin.de