ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects

PROC

Mission/Programme Planetary Radar Operation Center (PROC)
Main Theme ESS
Mission Responsibility NASA/ESA
Launch Date
End of Mission December 2011
Current phase E2

 

Description
During the last decade, ASI has actively participated in the CASSINI-Huygens, Mars Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) missions through the development of on-board scientific instruments. Active participation to the mission operations and analysis of data from the planets Saturn and Mars plays a crucial role within the Italian scientific programme.


For this reason ASI has set up three operational centres for processing the data produced by the sub-surface radar MARSIS and SHARAD and for processing the altimeter data of the radar which is on the CASSINI spacecraft.
PROC is a centre that unifies under a single structure the three previously developed centres. It strives, always maintaining required autonomy from the scientific point of view, to select a series of synergies to contain costs and to optimize management from ASI's side.


The contract for developing the PROC centre stipulated with TAS-I also provides for the set up of a radar element for experiments on stratospheric balloon, SoRa, which are required for the complete understanding of data produced from sounding-radar Sharad and Marsis.

 

Scientific Objectives
The PROC centre is part of the framework of planetary radar experiments that are operating today as the required ground segment in preparation for the command, data receiving and de-formatting sequences to make data intelligible to scientists and to provide support through the appropriate software and computers for analyzing scientific data.


With PROC, ASI and therefore Italy is providing itself with an integrated operational centre dedicated to processing planetary radar data that puts the national scientific community in the first rungs of the world in the field of understanding the Martian subsoil and the soil of other planets. In fact, the joint analysis of MARSIS and SHARD data will make the complete mapping of Mars' subsurface possible, thus assisting in in situ exploration before and after human exploration. Moreover, with the SoRa experiment, essential data will be available for interpreting MARSIS and SHARAD data together with the original data on the thickness of Arctic ice.

 

Italian Contribution
Both for MARSIS and SHARAD the planning of observations, their execution and data processing to levels of insertion of the PDS (Planetary Data System) are under Italian responsibility.  In addition, for SHARAD the operations are executed with a ground segment that includes a remote sensing station at JPL.
With this programme ASI adds an important piece of the puzzle to understanding planetary radar data thanks also to the SoRa experiment.

 

International Agreements
MOU ASI-NASA for Cassini, SHARAD on MRO and MARSIS