Astro News Briefs: December 1–7

Mars Satellite Damaged

December 3, 2003 | Satellites orbiting Earth generally made it through the late-October solar storms just fine, but Mars Odyssey orbiting the red planet took a bad hit. A coronal mass ejection from the Sun knocked out Mars Odyssey's Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE). Controllers at NASA have been trying to nurse the instrument back to life since October 28th without success. MARIE was designed to characterize the radiation that future astronauts will face in interplanetary space and on the Martian surface. "Even if the instrument provides no additional data in the future, it has been a great success at characterizing the radiation environment that a crewed mission to Mars would need to anticipate," said Jeffrey Plaut, project scientist for Mars Odyssey, in a press statement. Efforts to revive MARIE are continuing. Mars Odyssey's mapping cameras and other instruments were unaffected.