This is the only thing we have to go on.<br /><br />http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEMXEO3VQUD_0.html<br /><br />Unless they find that it won't damage the spacecraft when deployed, I'm afraid they may wait till the extended mission begins...if there is indeed one on the drawing board.
I wonder if there's anything that the Marsis does that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can't do when it gets to Mars in 2006. It would be nice to get early data, but at least we'll get it one way or another in the next couple years. Maybe the Mars Express team is just trying to decide how much data they need from the instruments that may be damaged before their mission is considered a success. After that point, they would be more willing to risk damage to those instruments.<br /><br />From the MRO website http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/newsroom/pressreleases/20030923a.html<br /><i>"Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter ... will scan underground layers for water and ice... will check whether the frozen water that NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft detected in the top meter or two (yard or two) of soil extends deeper, perhaps as accessible reservoirs of melted water."</i><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
Welcome back all!<br /><br /><font color="yellow">MARSIS will map the sub-surface structure to a depth of a few kilometres.<br />The instrument (Sharad) has a horizontal resolution of between 0.3 and 3 kilometers (between 2/10 of a mile and almost 2 miles) horizontally and <b>15 meters vertically.</b></font><br /><br />So Mars Express can penetrate a few hundred times deeper then MRO. That’s deep enough to find underground glaciers and cavities. It’s really what makes this mission in my opinion. But I do agree with ESA’s approach. They have to be able to prove that it won’t damage the spacecraft before deploying it. If they can’t do that then it would be best to wait at until the other instruments have collected a fair amount of data.<br />