Europe plans remote update to keep aging Mars probe stable

April 11, 2018
Europe plans remote update to keep aging Mars probe stable
This 2006 file photo released by the European Space Agency, ESA, shows a photo shot by European space ship 'Mars Express' of a gigantic glacial valley on planet Mars. The European Space Agency plans to remotely update the software on its Mars Express probe to ensure the aging spacecraft remains stable. The probe arrived at Mars in late 2003 for a two-year mission, but almost 15 years later it's still operating. ESA said Wednesday April 11, 2018 that four of Mars Express' six gyroscopes—used to measure the probe's rotation—are failing, ending the mission's in 2019. ( ESA/DLR via AP)

The European Space Agency plans to remotely update the software on its Mars Express probe to ensure the aging spacecraft remains stable.

The probe arrived at Mars in late 2003 for a two-year mission , but almost 15 years later it's still operating.

ESA said Wednesday four of Mars Express' six gyroscopes—used to measure the probe's rotation—are failing, which would end the mission in 2019.

So engineers decided to rewrite the 's computer so it can orient itself using pictures of surrounding stars most of the time. The code was uploaded last Sunday. A reboot is planned Monday.

While similar patches have been developed for other spacecraft, mission manager Patrick Martin said "this is certainly the most complex and extensive software rewrite we've done in recent memory."

Explore further: Mars Express v.2.0

Related Stories

Mars Express v.2.0

April 11, 2018

Every so often, your smartphone or tablet receives new software to improve its functionality and extend its life. Now, ESA's Mars Express is getting a fresh install, delivered across over 150 million km of space.

Rewrite of onboard memory planned for NASA Mars orbiter

October 30, 2015

Tables stored in flash memory aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) tell locations of Earth and the sun for the past 10 years, but not their locations next year. That needs to be changed. Carefully.

Parker Solar Probe comes to NASA Goddard for testing

November 9, 2017

On Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, NASA's Parker Solar Probe spacecraft arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for environmental tests. During the spacecraft's stay at Goddard, engineers and technicians ...

Recommended for you

How hot are atoms in the shock wave of an exploding star?

January 21, 2019

A new method to measure the temperature of atoms during the explosive death of a star will help scientists understand the shock wave that occurs as a result of this supernova explosion. An international team of researchers, ...

New eclipsing cataclysmic variable discovered

January 21, 2019

Using the Mobile Astronomical System of Telescope-Robots (MASTER), an international team of astronomers has detected a new eclipsing cataclysmic variable. The newfound object, designated MASTER OT J061451.70–272535.5, is ...

The disintegrating exoplanet K2-22b

January 21, 2019

Exoplanet surveys have yielded many surprises over the years, and the discovery of "disintegrating" exoplanets was one of them. These are planets that produce asymmetric shapes in the dips of the light curves seen as they ...

Total lunar eclipse woos sky watchers

January 21, 2019

An unusual set of celestial circumstances came together over Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday for sky watchers in Europe, Africa and the Americas, where the moon was fully obscured before lighting up again with a ...

Making stars when the universe was half its age

January 18, 2019

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, and its stars are arguably its most momentous handiwork. Astronomers studying the intricacies of star formation across cosmic time are trying to understand whether stars and the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.