The 2016 ExoMars spacecraft, a dynamic duo of the TGO orbiter and EDM Schiaparelli lander, is getting ready for its big date with the Red Planet!
All teams are working full speed ahead to ready the spacecraft for its rendezvous. The components and subsystems involved in the critical entry, descent and landing phase have been checked out, including activation of the onboard computer and the Radar Doppler Altimeter, built by Thales Alenia Space in Milan and Rome, respectively. The EDM, built by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, is also in good shape. Critical components have been calibrated, including gyroscopes, accelerometers and the TGO interface unit. These operations are preprogrammed on Earth, with the New Norcia station in Australia providing communications coverage.
The spacecraft was rotated today so the EDM antenna is pointing towards Earth for a Direct-To-Earth (DTE) communications test.
"With a little help from my friends" …
During Schiaparelli’s critical entry, descent and landing phase, four friendly ears will be listening for signals from the lander to confirm that the mission has been successfully completed: the TGO and Mars Express orbiters, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and – back down on Earth – the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope near Pune, India. A few hours after landing, all telemetry signals will be transmitted via the TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter).
The next milestone is October 14, when a final orbital correction maneuver will be performed if necessary. For all the latest news, stay tuned to our own “Martian Chronicles”!
© Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes