Category Archives: ExoMars

Quasars Help Navigating to Mars

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How is ESA going to navigate to Mars?  By using quasars of course.

Very cool!!! The inset is explained below BTW.

Image and caption below: Copyright Estrack / ESA/D. Pazos – Quasar P1514-24 inset image: Rami Rekola, Univerity of Turku, 2001

From ESA:

  • In order to precisely deliver the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator module to the martian surface and then insert ExoMars/TGO into orbit around the Red Planet, it’s necessary to pin down the spacecraft’s location to within just a few hundred metres at a distance of more than 150 million km.To achieve this amazing level of accuracy, ESA experts are making use of ‘quasars’ – the most luminous objects in the Universe – as ‘calibrators’ in a technique known as Delta-Differential One-Way Ranging, or delta-DOR.Until recently, quasars were only poorly understood. These objects can emit 1000 times the energy of our entire Milky Way galaxy from a volume that it not much bigger than our Solar System, making them fearfully powerful.
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Peake At The Controls

Tim Peake takes control of the ESA’s Mars rover prototype named Bridget located in the UK from the International Space Station.

He controlled the rover for two hours and even drove it into a simulated cave. Nice work!

I don’t know what the odds of the rover going into a cave on Mars but I would hope they would code in a reverse route in the event radio contact was lost.

Video

First Light – ExoMars

exomarsFL

On 14 April the ExoMars switched on the camera and pointed it to the sky.

The first image taken by the Trace Gas Orbiter of the ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars 2016 mission.

The image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, CaSSIS, and points to a randomly selected portion of the sky close to the southern celestial pole.

The picture shows the result of taking one CaSSIS frame, turning the camera’s rotation mechanism, and then taking another. By subtracting the two frames, a series of bright and dark spots are seen, all equally offset from each other, demonstrating that these are positive and negative images of the same stars.

The field-of-view is 0.2º in the horizontal direction, and is a subset of a larger image, extracted for this purpose to show the stars at a reasonable size.

In operation at Mars, about 400 km above the planet, CaSSIS will sweep out a swath as TGO approaches it, then turn the rotation mechanism by 180º and image the same swath as it recedes. By doing so, CaSSIS will make stereo images of the surface.

If you’re wondering about the black spots: The picture shows the result of taking one CaSSIS frame, turning the camera’s rotation mechanism, and then taking another. By subtracting the two frames, a series of bright and dark spots are seen, all equally offset from each other, demonstrating that these are positive and negative images of the same stars.

Image and caption: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

ExoMars 2016 Rolls Out

Launch is now only hours away, launch time 09:31 UTC tomorrow (14 March 2016).

Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Mars arrival: October 2016

Exo

TGO instruments:
ACS: Atmospheric Chemistry Suite
CaSSIS: Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System
FREND: Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector
NOMAD: Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery

Schiaparelli instruments:
AMELIA: Atmospheric Mars Entry and Landing Investigation and Analysis
COMARS+: Combined Aerothermal and Radiometer Sensors instrumentation package
DeCa: Descent Camera
INRRI: INstrument for landing-Roving laser Retroreflector Investigations
DREAMS: Dust Characterisation, Risk Assessment, and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface

This mission sets the stage for the upcoming soon the ExoMars2018 Rover!