The high-resolution camera sends its first pictures from space. About a month ago, on March 14 the ExoMars-ship started the journey to Mars. The ship should arrive by October this year. Researchers of the CaSSIS project already announced that the system is working as planned after having successfully switched it on and made contact on April 7.
The extremely complex camera-system, which is expected to send stereo pictures of the surface of Mars, was built within 23 months. Normally it would take 38 months for such a difficult machine. “The team at the University of Berne and our partners have worked very hard to finish it in time” explains Ruth Ziethe, the project manager from the Institute of Physics at the University of Berne.
After many tests and simulations with the mars-camera, the ship was finally able to be sent out on March 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Even though there have been many check-ups of the ExoMars beforehand, any unplanned situation can occur in space.
The CaSSIS (Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System) was activated as scheduled on the 7th of April. “The first start of the camera went smoothly”, explains Nicolas Thomas, the director of the CaSSIS team in Berne. The first test pictures showed stars, which means that the researchers will soon be able to also get good pictures of Mars. “We now know that the surface of the planet Mars is constantly changing and now we have the tool to follow the changes.”, clarifies Nicolas Thomas.
CaSSIS is a joint project of the University of Berne, the Astronomical Observatory of Padua and the Space Research Center in Warsaw with the support from local industries. Funded by the Swiss Space Office (SSO), the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Polish Space Agency (POLSA), the project involves 25 scientists from nine countries, including Russia and the USA.
Prof. Thomas and his team are excited to observe changes of the surface of Mars with the camera during the days and seasons of Mars.
(Blog written by Mai Masuya, DSTY)