Latest Planetary Fourier Spectrometer Stories

2009-12-08 14:00:00

Scientists rule out the possibility that methane is delivered by meteorites into the Martian atmosphere Scientists have ruled out the possibility that methane is delivered to Mars by meteorites, raising fresh hopes that the gas might be generated by life on the red planet, in research published tomorrow (Wednesday December 9, 2009) in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Methane has a short lifetime of just a few hundred years on Mars because it is constantly being depleted by a chemical...

2008-09-22 13:40:00

Scientists are now able to better explain why Mars's residual southern ice cap is misplaced, thanks to data from ESA's Mars Express spacecraft - the martian weather system is to blame. And so is the largest impact crater on Mars "“ even though it is nowhere near the south pole. Like Earth, Mars has frozen polar caps, but unlike Earth, these caps are made of carbon dioxide ice as well as water ice. During the southern hemisphere's summer, much of the ice cap sublimates, a process in...

2007-12-11 09:40:00

This summer, Mars suffered a titanic dust storm that engulfed the entire planet. The dust storm contributed to a temporary warming effect around Mars, which raised the temperature of the atmosphere by around 20-30°C. However, the surface temperature of the planet itself dropped. Imagine a dust cloud on Earth that started in the Sahara desert and grew to encompass our whole planet. Such a catastrophe would block sunlight from reaching the surface and plunge us into twilight for months. It...

2007-11-23 13:25:00

On December 25, 2003, Europe's first Mars explorer 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....

2005-09-14 06:40:28

ESA -- ESA has started a technical investigation into the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) on board Mars Express, after a problem developed in the instrument a few months ago. Vibration effects (induced by spacecraft activities) have been suggested as a cause for the observed behaviour. However no source has yet been identified and other causes internal to the instrument cannot be fully ruled out. In order to establish the exact cause of the problem, ESA's Mars Express team is...

2005-07-20 08:50:00

On Earth, methane is mostly produced by life. The recent detection of methane in the martian atmosphere therefore has given rise to much speculation about the possibility for life on the Red Planet. Part one of this four-part series about methane and Mars provides an overview of the recent findings. Astrobiology Magazine -- Mars is the planet that refuses to say "die." In 1996, after centuries of speculation about canals, icecaps and vegetation, NASA's David McKay reported seeing traces of...

Word of the Day
  • Exultant; jubilant; triumphant; on the high horse.
  • Tipsy; slightly intoxicated.
This word may come from the phrase 'to set cock on hoop,' or 'to drink festively.' Its origin otherwise is unclear. A theory, according to the Word Detective, is that it's a 'transliteration of the French phrase 'coq a huppe,' meaning a rooster displaying its crest ('huppe') in a pose of proud defiance.' Therefore, 'cock-a-hoop' would 'liken a drunken man to a boastful and aggressive rooster.'