ExoMars: A small assistance from friends

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Mars Express

Mars Express

ESA’s initial Mars orbiter will yield an vicious assisting palm when a second arrives during a Red Planet in October.

Following lift off in March, a ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli lander are now enroute to Mars, with attainment set for 19 October.

Once orbiting Mars, TGO will start analysing singular gases in a planet’s atmosphere, generally methane, that on Earth points to active geological or biological processes.

Meanwhile, Schiaparelli will denote a record indispensable to make a tranquil landing.

But they have to arrive during a world first, and that’s where a 13 year-old Mars Express will lend a essential assisting palm – or, rather, ear.

Separation, windy entry, descent, landing

ExoMars 2016 Schiaparelli skirmish sequence

ExoMars 2016 Schiaparelli skirmish sequence

On 16 October, Schiaparelli will apart and, 3 days later, deplane and land as TGO enters orbit.

On alighting day, ESA’s Mars Express, that has been delivering fantastic scholarship information given 2003, will record signals from Schiaparelli for goal control to endorse a protected attainment and after refurbish a descent.

“This will use a Mars Express Melacom communication system, creatively carried for communications with a Beagle 2 lander and NASA rovers,” says James Godfrey, Mars Express emissary booster operations manager.

“This will capacitate Mars Express to detect and record vicious Schiaparelli skirmish events, such as entrance into a atmosphere, parachute deployment, heatshield release, touchdown and start of aspect activities.”

The circuit of Mars Express was practiced in Feb for it to be in a right partial of a martian sky to hear a signals transmitted from a forward Schiaparelli.

ExoMars 2016 nearing during Mars

On 19 October, about 80 mins before landing, Schiaparelli will arise adult and a few mins after start transmitting a guide signal.

Mars Express will already have forked Melacom’s tiny receiver to a mark above a world where Schiaparelli will appear, and will start recording a beacon, branch to follow a skirmish path.

“Recording will continue by touchdown and a initial 15 mins of aspect operation, after that Schiaparelli will switch off and Mars Express will stop recording,” says Simon Wood, Mars Express booster operations engineer.

Then, Mars Express will spin a categorical receiver towards Earth and start downloading information that enclose a initial in-situ acknowledgment from Mars of Schiaparelli’s attainment and landing.”

Melacom’s program was recently updated to be concordant with Schiaparelli’s transmitter. On 15 June, it will be tested while drifting over NASA’s Curiosity rover, that will broadcast a vigilance identical to Schiaparelli’s.

Source: ESA