Mars Express Dodges Solar Bullet

Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft has overcome the effects of last week’s solar flares, which temporarily knocked out navigation equipment aboard the orbiter while leaving the mission’s Beagle 2 lander unscathed. Researchers with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express mission said their spacecraft is in good health after solar storms blinded the orbiter’s two star trackers for up to 15 hours. Mission controllers said both instruments, which trackers are crucial to keeping Mars Express oriented properly, are now working properly and there appears to be no long-term damage. The flares also delayed a scheduled Beagle 2 checkout procedure, but caused no ill effects otherwise.