ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter Awaits Signals From InSight

©ESA

Electra radio

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is all set to receive the first signals from InSight - NASA's latest inhabitant of Mars.


The joint ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars TGO is a research spacecraft orbiting Mars to make a detailed analysis of gases in the martian atmosphere that may be linked to geological or biological activity. The orbiter also relays information from spacecraft exploring the martian surface to teams on Earth, increasing the quantity of data it is possible for us to receive from missions scouring the surface of the Red Planet.

On Friday 30 November, at 15:20 UTC (16:20 CET), the TGO spacecraft will fly over the stationary new lander, catching the latest data it has gathered during its brief stretch on its new planet. This data from the alien world will be downloaded from the ExoMars TGO when it next comes into view of NASA's Madrid ground station, later on Monday evening.

Nestled within the spacecraft are two Electra radios, one of which is shown in this image. These NASA-built radios include special features that allow data to be relayed between a stationary lander or rover, the orbiting spacecraft, and Earth.

ESA's TGO will join NASA orbiters in picking up signals from InSight for the lifetime its mission, beaming martian data back to Earth as well as forwarding data from Earth to the new InSight lander, and providing the first-ever routine data relay support between missions of different agencies at Mars.

TGO will also relay data from ESA's ExoMars surface rover starting in 2021.

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