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ASPERA-3 - ESA Science News 981112

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ASPERA-3 is an energtic neutral atom analyzer for the Mars Express Orbiter. ASPERA-3 is proposed by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna, in cooperation with several international partners.

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Text extracted from the ESA Newsletter #36 (November 1998)

12 Nov 1998
"Back to the SPC and its major outcome ! One of the major decisions the SPC had to take was to decide to introduce Mars Express in the programme. Delegations unanimously approved the baseline mission, subject however to the condition that the appropriate level of funding is made available to the Science Programme and there is no impact on the already approved projects. I made it clear during the discussions that in no way would ESA propose to delay FIRST and Planck to leave
room for Mars Express even though some Delegations did not reject that assumption.

The SPC also took note of the selection of the Beagle-2 Lander on Mars Express, subject to the condition that it is fully financed. Since part of the necessary funds have already been collected by the Beagle II PI, Dr. C. Pillinger, the Executive agreed with him to include Beagle-2 in the mission until the end of Phase-B (end 1999). At that time the financial situation should hopefully have been cleared.

Several factors prevailed which led to the unanimous vote for Mars Express. First, the science case is indisputable. The baseline payload, partly re-using some Mars 96 instruments with the addition of a sounding radar and a lander, would provide a unique tool to search for underground water and look for a possible trace of fossile life. Second, the SPC noted the important role of the mission for international collaboration : once in orbit (around Christmas 2003), Mars Express will be able to provide relay communication services to the non ESA stations and/or rovers which would be present on the surface of Mars between 2003 and 2007. A third important element was the low cost of the mission (150 MEUROS) achievable through a new and innovative approach of working with industry and through more efficient and lean management methods as well as taking advantages of commonalities with Rosetta. In fact, Mars Express will be the cheapest ever mission to Mars and it was seen by SPC Delegations as a test case for these new methods, and for providing a good basis to lower the costs of future ESA missions."

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