Paris, 24 Jun 2003
The instruments on board ESA's mission to Mars, Mars Express, are in the process of being tested to verify that they have survived the launch successfully and will work properly. One of these tests on the Mars Express lander, Beagle 2, has been postponed to the first week of July.
This will give engineers extra time to investigate a temporary anomaly that occurred in a memory unit, the so-called 'Solid State Mass Memory' (SSMM). The SSMM stores data from the instruments before sending them to Earth.
This anomaly happened last week during the test of OMEGA, one of Mars Express instruments. For a short period of time, the output of one part of the SSMM contained errors. The problem disappeared spontaneously. The affected memory unit is now working properly. To preserve the data which are stored in this part of the memory, while trying to understand why it occurred, the instrument checks have been rescheduled.
These kind of events are considered routine in a space mission, but engineers would like to understand the causes before re-starting the instrument tests.