The University of Bern’s Center of Space and Habitability (CSH) again announced cutting-edge technology: A high resolution camera (5 metres per pixel) built at the center in only 23 month will be launched to Mars on Monday, March 14, with ESA’s (European Space Agency) ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)! After leaving the Earth from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the orbiter is scheduled to encounter Mars in October 2016.
The camera named CaSSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) is not only able to do stereo observations over a wide swathe, but also to record in full color. Its task is the recording of what is most likely liquid water on the surface of Mars, in order for researchers to analyze it and to look at variations of the phenomena over local time. Furthermore, the dynamical phenomena, namely phase transitions (sublimation, condensation of ices on the surface), will be observed.
Prior to shipping CaSSIS to Cannes, where it is integrated into the spacecraft, a series of tests had to be undertaken in order to ensure its smooth operation. Prof. Dr. Nicolas Thomas, Principal Investigator of CaSSIS, highlights the environmental tests which were executed. Simulating the circumstances at the laboratory, CaSSIS was tested on its performance at different temperatures of its surroundings as well as on the influence of the shaking during the flight.
CaSSIS will be switched on in space for the first time in mid-April. At that point, researchers will know if the high-precision instrument they built will perform according to their expectations.
We wish CaSSIS a safe flight and are looking forward to exciting news from Mars!