Instrumentation used to study Martian ice:
Mars Global Surveyor:
The MGS main homepage: "In November 1996, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began America's return to Mars after a 20-year absence by launching the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. This mission will usher in a new and exciting era of scientific missions to study the red planet.
Over the course of a full Martian year, Surveyor will return an unprecedented amount of data regarding Mars' surface features, atmosphere, and magnetic properties. Scientists will use the data gathered from this mission both to learn about the Earth by comparing it to Mars, and to build a comprehensive data set to aid in planning future missions.
Mars and Earth shared similar conditions billions of years ago, but appear much different today. A comparison of Mars and Earth will allow scientists to understand Earth's history and possibly its future." Read more
More about the MGS can also be found at JPL's Missions Website: "Mars Global Surveyor became the first successful mission to the red planet in two decades when it launched November 7, 1996, and entered orbit on September 12, 1997. After a year and a half trimming its orbit from a looping ellipse to a circular track around the planet, the spacecraft began its prime mapping mission in March 1999. It has observed the planet from a low-altitude, nearly polar orbit over the course of one complete Martian year, the equivalent of nearly two Earth years. Mars Global Surveyor recently completed its primary mission on January 31, 2001, and is now in an extended mission phase.
The mission has studied the entire Martian surface, atmosphere, and interior, and has returned more data about the red planet than all other Mars missions combined.
Among key science findings so far, Global Surveyor has taken pictures of gullies and debris flow features that suggest there may be current sources of liquid water, similar to an aquifer, at or near the surface of the planet. Magnetometer readings show that the planet's magnetic field is not globally generated in the planet's core, but is localized in particular areas of the crust. New temperature data and closeup images of the Martian moon Phobos show its surface is composed of powdery material at least 1 meter (3 feet) thick, caused by millions of years of meteoroid impacts. Data from the spacecraft's laser altimeter have given scientists their first 3-D views of Mars' north polar ice cap." Read more
The TES Website: "TES is both an instrument and a technique. The Thermal Emission Spectrometer is a scientific instrument that first flew aboard the Mars Observer spacecraft. Following the loss of that spacecraft, TES was rebuilt and launched along with five of the original seven Mars Observer instruments aboard the new Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The purpose of TES is to measure the thermal infrared energy (heat) emitted from Mars. This technique, called thermal emission spectroscopy, can tell us much about the geology and atmosphere of Mars. TES data will provide the first detailed look at the composition of Mars." Read more
The MOC Archive: "The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) onboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was launched November 7, 1996. The first MOC images of Mars were acquired in early July 1997 as the spacecraft approached the planet. MGS reached Mars in mid-September 1997 and has been orbiting the planet since that time. The Primary Mission period for MGS was 1 Mars Year (~687 Earth days). The Primary Mission began March 1999 and ended January 31, 2001." Read more See the latest pictures from MOC MSSS MOC Archive
The MOLA Science Investigation web page: "MOLA is the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, an instrument currently in orbit around Mars on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. The instrument transmits infrared laser pulses towards Mars at a rate of 10 Hz and measures the time of flight to determine the range of the MGS spacecraft to the Martian surface. Range measurements have used to construct a precise topographic map of Mars that has many applications to studies in geophysics, geology and atmospheric circulation. MOLA also functions as a passive radiometer, and is currently measuring the radiance of the surface of Mars at 1064 nm." Read more
The Odyssey Website: "2001 Mars Odyssey is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The opportunity to go to Mars comes around every 26 months, when the alignment of Earth and Mars in their orbits around the sun allows spacecraft to travel between the two planets with the least amount of energy. 2001 Mars Odyssey launched on April 7, 2001, and arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001, 0230 Universal Time (October 23, 7:30 pm PDT/ 10:30 EDT)."
"The three primary instruments carried by 2001 Mars Odyssey are: 1. THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System), for determining the distribution of minerals, particularly those that can only form in the presence of water; 2. GRS (Gamma Ray Spectrometer), for determining the presence of 20 chemical elements on the surface of Mars, including hydrogen in the shallow subsurface (which acts as a proxy for determining the amount and distribution of possible water ice on the planet); and, 3. MARIE (Mars Radiation Environment Experiment), for studying the radiation environment.
The Odyssey orbiter has also provided a communications relay for the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, transmitting 85% of the data from the rovers to Earth. Odyssey will continue to support the rovers and future landed missions to Mars throughout its extended mission. Scientists and engineers will also use Odyssey images and data to identify potential landing sites for future Mars missions as it did for the 2003 rovers." Read more
The Themis main homepage: "The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) is an instrument on board the Mars 2001 Odyssey spacecraft. It combines a 5-band visual imaging system with a 10-band infrared imaging system."Read more
The Gamma Ray Spectrometer Lunar and Planetary Lab at U of A: "The Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) instrument suite is a set of instruments aboard the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Two of these instruments (the Neutron Spectrometer and the High Energy Neutron Detector) detect neutrons released from the surface of the planet. The third instrument (the Gamma Ray Spectrometer) detects gamma ray photons coming from the planet." Read more
The Gamma Ray Spectrometer Odyssey web page: "The gamma ray spectrometer has measured the abundance and distribution of many elements of the periodic table, including hydrogen, silicon, iron, potassium, thorium, and chlorine. Knowing what elements are at or near the surface gives detailed information about how Mars has changed over time. To determine the elemental makeup of the martian surface, the experiment uses gamma ray spectrometer and two neutron detectors." Read more
Mars Express: "In late spring of 2003, a small spacecraft backed by a multinational team will leave Earth for Mars as part of Earth's search for water and possible evidence of past or present life on the red planet. Mars Express, which features an orbiter and a lander, is a European Space Agency mission designed as a low-cost, fast-track effort. Countries involved include France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Spain, Japan, and the United States." Read more
The Mars Express Instrumentation website: "The HRSC on board ESA's Mars Express will image the entire planet in full colour, 3D and with a resolution of about 10 metres. Selected areas will be imaged at 2-metre resolution. One of the camera's greatest strengths will be the unprecedented pointing accuracy achieved by combining images at the two different resolutions." Read more
The Mars Express Instrumentation Website: "OMEGA is building up a map of surface composition in 100 metre squares. It will determine mineral composition from the visible and infrared light reflected from the planet's surface in the wavelength range 0.5-5.2 microns. As light reflected from the surface must pass through the atmosphere before entering the instrument, OMEGA will also measure aspects of atmospheric composition." Read more
The Mars Express Instrumentation Website: "The PFS is determining the composition of the Martian atmosphere from the wavelengths of sunlight (in the range 1.2-45 microns) absorbed by molecules in the atmosphere and from the infrared radiation they emit.
In particular, it will measure the vertical pressure and temperature profile of carbon dioxide which makes up 95% of the martian atmosphere, and look for minor constituents including water, carbon monoxide, methane and formaldehyde. " Read more
The Mars Express Instrumentation Website: "MARSIS will map the sub-surface structure to a depth of a few kilometres. The instrument's 40-metre long antenna will send low frequency radio waves towards the planet, which will be reflected from any surface they encounter.
For most, this will be the surface of Mars, but a significant fraction will travel through the crust to be reflected at sub-surface interfaces between layers of different material, including water or ice. " Read more
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter main homepage: "NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for launch in 2005, is on a search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a long period of time. While other Mars missions have shown that water flowed across the surface in Mars' history, it remains a mystery whether water was ever around long enough to provide a habitat for life."Read more
The NASA HiRise website: "The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) will fly on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission, planned for launch in August of 2005. HiRISE will investigate deposits and landforms resulting from geologic and climatic processes and assist in the evaluation of candidate landing sites.
By combining very high resolution and signal-to-noise ratio with a large swath width, it is possible to image on a variety of scales down to 1 meter, a scale currently afforded only in glimpses by landers. HiRISE will offer such views over any selected region of Mars, providing a bridge between orbital remote sensing and landed missions. Stereo image pairs will be acquired over the highest-priority locations with a vertical precision of better than 25 cm per pixel." Read more
NASA MARCI website: "MARCI [Mars Color Imager] will produce a global map to help characterize daily, seasonal and year-to-year variations in Mars' climate, providing a daily weather report for Mars.
MARCI will also observe processes such as dust storms and changes in the polar cap using 5 visible bands.
Additionally MARCI makes ultraviolet observations at two wavelengths to detect variations in ozone, dust, and carbon dioxide changes in the atmosphere. These processes will be observed on scales of tens of kilometers." Read more
The CRISM at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory: "CRISM is one of six scientific instruments planned for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that NASA will send to the Red Planet in 2005. A visible-infrared hyperspectral mapper, CRISM will seek evidence of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features.
CRISM will also characterize seasonal variations in dust and ice aerosols and water content of surface materials, supplementing climatologic data gathered by other Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter instruments." Read more
From the Malin Space Science Systems website: “From its 3 p.m. circular, polar orbit, the MRO Context Imager (CTX) will obtain grayscale (black-and-white) images of the martian surface with a spatial resolution of about 6 meters (20 feet) per pixel over a swath that is about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) wide. CTX is a Facility Instrument, operated by Malin Space Science Systems and the MRO MARCI science team.” Read more
NASA SHERAD website:“SHARAD [Shallow Subsurface Radar] will seek liquid or frozen water in the first few hundreds of feet (up to 1 kilometer) of Mars' crust.
SHARAD will probe the subsurface using radar waves using a 15-25 MHz frequency band in order to get the desired high depth resolution.
The radar wave return, which is captured by the SHARAD antenna, is sensitive to changes in the electrical reflection characteristics of the rock, sand, and any water present in the surface and subsurface. Water, like high-density rock, is very conducting, and will have a very strong radar return. Changes in the reflection characteristics of the subsurface, such as layers deposited by geological processes in the ancient history of Mars, will also be visible.” Read more
NASA Mars Climate Sounder website: “The Mars Climate Sounder will observe the temperature, humidity, and dust content of the martian atmosphere, making measurements that are needed to understand Mars' current weather and climate, as well as potential variations that may occur.
Scientists will use these measurements to understand how the martian atmosphere circulates and varies over time. The measurements will also help explain how and why the martian polar caps vary in response to the atmosphere and the energy input from the Sun.” Read more
The Phoenix main homepage: "The Phoenix Mars Mission, scheduled for launch in August 2007, is the first in NASA's "Scout Program." Scouts are designed to be highly innovative and relatively low-cost complements to major missions being planned as part of the agency's Mars Exploration Program. Phoenix is specifically designed to measure volatiles (especially water) and complex organic molecules in the arctic plains of Mars, where the Mars Odyssey orbiter has discovered evidence of ice-rich soil very near the surface.
Similar to its namesake, Phoenix "raises from the ashes" a spacecraft and instruments from two previous unsuccessful attempts to explore Mars. The 2001 lander, administratively mothballed in 2000, is being resurrected for the Phoenix Mission. Similarly, many of the mission's scientific instruments have already been built, requiring little or no modification for flight to Mars. more
Phoenix is a fixed lander, using a robotic arm to dig to the ice layer and analyze samples with a suite of sophisticated on-deck scientific instruments." Read more