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FMI / Earth Observation Website

This website hosts research-related information about space-research related activities at the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki.

This page is only maintained in English

For general information about related subjects also in Finnish and Swedish, please see the institute's homepage at

Suomeksi: http://ilmatieteenlaitos.fi

A summary of all former and currently planned FMI Space Projects is shown here.

Mars Exprexss/Beagle II found on Martian Surface

Close-up of Beagle-2 on Mars, released 16/01/2015; Copyright HiRISE/NASA/JPL/Parker/Leicester

The Lander of Mars Express, Beagle II, was found on a Hirise image 16.1.2015 After the separation of the English Mars Lander from its carrier Mars Express end of 2003 there had been no information about its status. Radio contact could not be established after its supposed landing on the red planet on 24 December. Until now it was therefore assumed that the landing did not succeed due to failure of the parachute or a freak low atmospheric pressure close to the surface rendering the effectiveness of the aerobreaking marginal. New high resolution images of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's camera HIRISE show that Beagle II safely landed in less then 5 km distance from the theoretical landing ellipse's center. At least 2 of the 5 petals were correctly deployed and are clearly visible; the other 3 seem not to be deployed at all. Containing the radio link antenna on the inside this would have made any radio contact impossible. Also the remains of the parachutes seemed to have been identified close by. Why the the Lander did not completely open might remain for ever a mystery, but the first soft European landing attempt onto the Martian surface seems to have succeeded after all 13 years before the scheduled next attempt with ExoMars in 2016.

Beagle II contained an atmospheric pressure sensor provided by the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Rosetta/Philae's primary mission ended this morning, 15.11.2014, 03:15 Finnish time

After the depletion of the primary battery and the recharged secondary battery the contact between Rosetta and Philae stopped and re-started a few times until it failed completely. Last information showed the empty battery status. Philae's control system as final activity changed into Long Term Science mode and activated its low-power stand by mode where it will remain until sufficient solar power is available for a restart.

Seperation and Landing:

Separation happened as planned on 12.11. at 10:35 Finnish time. After 2 hours of flight without communication the radio link between Philae and Rosetta was established 13:00. All operations during the descent were performed as planned, all systems were nominally,

After precise point landing in the intended area neither down-hold thruster nor the harpoons activated successfully. The ice screws were not able to hold the lander which took off again for another 2 hours flight after which it settled in a niche of a cliff at the edge of area 'B'. Here it performed most of the intended initial measurements before shutting down when the batteries run out.

Problems: APXS doors did not open, so that only reference spectra were measured, the MUPUS-PEN was not able to penetrate into the very hard ice body and stands now only inside the dusty top layer. The measurement sequence itself went as planned. It is not clear how deep the drill entered the soil and if the taken sample contained much material for the subsequent analysis by COSAC.

Due to the shadowing on three sides the efficiency of the solar panels for accu recharging during only 1.6 hours sun light is not high. It was improved by a final rotation of the Lander body presenting the largest available panel towards the opening

Advantages: The "hopping" from the original to the final landing site allowed measurement of species from different locations which showed to be significantly different. The danger of getting fast a cover of the solar panels is much smaller than at the original landing site. Due to its protection it might be able to operate even close to the Sun and beyond perihelium without the danger of overheating which otherwise would have terminated the Philae mission latest in March 2015.

For more details see FMI's Rosetta page.

The ExoMars DREAMS Instrument Package is Integrated

On November 6 the Engineering Model of the Meteorological instrument package DREAMS (Dust Characterization, Risk Assessment, and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface) on board ESA's Exomars 2016 Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) Schiaparelli was successfully integrated. As it has the same form factor and functionality as the final flight model it was the most important step towards the final flight model. FMI' Radar and Space Research is delivering the flight model of the pressure and Humidity sensors in the next days for integration in Italy.

FMI participates in NASA's Mars 2020 Lander Program

On July 31 NASA publishes the instrument consortium participating in the Mars 2020 rover. FMI's pressure and humidity sensor are part of the Spanish-led MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) instrument package.

Mission timeline: Launch July/August 2020, arrival Jan/March 2021, landing as the Curiosity rover with a sky crane. Nominal mission duration 669 days (1 Martian year) with direct communication capability Rover - Earth.