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This Mars Orbiter Is Finally Getting A Software Update From Windows 98
Although the Mars Express, currently orbiting Mars, is still gathering useful data, the spacecraft is almost 20 years old and its software is pretty ancient. The team in charge of the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS), which measures the planet’s surface and subsurface, decided it was time for an update.
“We faced a number of challenges to improve the performance of MARSIS," said the person in charge of the instrument upgrade, Carlo Nenna. That’s an understatement considering the MARSIS software was based on Microsoft Windows 98, but Nenna’s team was able to design new software that will improve the performance of the instrument like better signal reception.
MARSIS works by firing low-frequency radio waves at the surface of Mars, which lets scientists get a view of what is beneath the Martian surface without having to actually visit the surface or dig anything up. In particular, the instrument is useful for looking for signs of water, and with its upgrades, will now be able to investigate signals from liquid water beneath the surface in more detail.