Exploring the Planets using Satellites – 24th November 2005

This evening the usual notices included some brief reports from the recent Deep Sky Camp. After the coffee break Helen Walker gave us a talk about Exploring the Planets using Satellites. She has been involved with various missions, and is currently working on Mars Express, which carried the unfortunate Beagle2 to Mars. Mars Express has been much more successful, and continues to return interesting results, some of which have prompted scientists to re-examine images returned by previous missions including Viking, to look for real features rather than faces and pyramids. She also talked about international co-operation, giving the current Mars rovers and orbiters, and the Cassini/Huygens mission as examples of successful co-operative missions. Mars Express is used to relay some data from Spirit and Opportunity, and Cassini carried Huygens to Titan, and then relayed its data back to Earth. Other current ESA missions like Rosetta, SMART-1, and Venus Express promise more interesting discoveries in years to come. We look forward to hearing about them in due course.

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