Patch management for the latest versions of Windows might be the concern of most of us located here on Earth, but in the meantime, the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft has received the first update to its Windows-based system. 98 in 19 years.
The mission was first launched to Discovery of signs of liquid water on Marsincluding a suspicious 20 x 30 km lake of salt water buried under 1.5 km of ice in the red planet’s south polar region.
What this means?
The agency said the update will allow the spacecraft to see Mars and its moon Phobos in better levels of detail.
The Advanced Mars Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Probing (MARSIS) from Mars Express sends low-frequency radio waves toward the planet using its 40-meter-long antenna.
Most of these waves are reflected off the planet’s surface, but significant amounts travel through the crust and are reflected at the boundaries between layers of different materials below the surface, including ice, soil, rock and water.
By examining the reflected signals, scientists can map the structure below the surface of Mars to a depth of a few kilometers and study properties such as the thickness and composition of its polar ice caps and the properties of volcanic and sedimentary rock layers.
The space agency didn’t go into too much detail about the specs of the hardware that received the update, however. Tom’s Hardware speculated that it might have a Pentium 90 processor, meaning it could potentially run classic games like Doom as well as exploring the secrets of Mars.
“Previously, to study the most important features of Mars and study its moon Phobos, we relied on a complex technique that stored a lot of high-resolution data and filled the instrument’s internal memory very quickly,” said Andrea Cicchetti, MARSIS Associate Principal Investigator and INAF operations manager.
He added: “By discarding data we don’t need, the new software allows us to activate MARSIS five times more and explore a much larger area with each pass.”