Mars Express (ASPERA-3)

Mars Express is the first European satellite to Mars. It was launched on a Russian rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on 2 June 2003. The satellite reached its destination at Christmas the same year and went into an elliptical polar orbit around the planet.

Jonmassanalysatorn och huvudenheten, ASPERA-3. Foto: IRF

IRF in Kiruna has developed and built one of the seven scientific instruments on Mars Express.

The IRF instrument ASPERA-3 (Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms) is studies how the solar wind affects the upper part of the atmosphere on Mars. The instrument itself consists of four different sensors that measure electrons, ions, and energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) in two different ways.

ASPERA-3 is the first instrument ever to measure ENAs with low energy (100 eV-10 keV) around another planet.

The instrument consists of two different parts:

  • IMA, Ion Mass Analyzer
  • The main unit, which, in addition to a Digital Processing Unit (DPU) and a moving mechanical scanner, includes three sensors: a Neutral Particle Imager (NPI), a Neutral Particle Detector (NPD) and an Electron Spectrometer (ELS).

Associate Professor Mats Holmström, principal investigator for ASPERA-3, IRF:, +46 980 79186