Sunday, March 3, 2024

ESA Mars Express orbiter finally gets a software upgrade, 19 years later

The software was originally designed over 20 years ago based on the now-outdated Microsoft system

“We faced a number of challenges to improve the performance of MARSIS,” says the person in charge of the instrument upgrade, Carlo Nenna. “Not least because the MARSIS software was originally designed over 20 years ago, using a development environment based on Microsoft Windows 98!” Nenna’s team was able to design new software that will improve the performance of the instrument, including better signal reception and faster data processing. This will allow the instrument to collect more science data in longer passes.”

According to ESA.

“Previously, to study the most important features on Mars, and to study its moon Phobos at all, we relied on a complex technique that stored a lot of high-resolution data and filled up the instrument’s on-board memory very quickly,” Andrea Cicchetti said. “By discarding data that we don’t need, the new software allows us to switch MARSIS on for five times as long and explore a much larger area with each pass.”