in Space

QinetiQ helps ESA investigate ExoMars lander's fate

Posted 3 November 2016 · Add Comment

QinetiQ technology is helping the European Space Agency (ESA) understand the fate of its Schiaparelli Entry and Descent Module (EDM), which attempted a Mars landing on 19 October 2016.



Above: QinetiQ's trasnsceiver is acting like a 'black box' as ESA investigates the fate of the Schiaparelli lander.

Schiaparelli’s entry, descent and landing formed one element of the ExoMars 2016 mission, which also saw the insertion of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) satellite into Mars orbit. However, the EDM was never confirmed to have landed safely on the planet’s surface, leaving uncertainty about what happened to the craft in its final moments.

Scientists at ESA are beginning to answer the questions by analysing data relayed by a QinetiQ transceiver on board the lander in the minutes and seconds leading up to its loss.

QinetiQ’s ultra-high frequency (UHF) transceiver provided a tracking signal and telemetry during the entry and descent. The telemetry was recorded by the TGO for later transmission back to Earth, while the transceiver’s signal was also tracked in real-time by the Pune Radio Telescope in India and the QinetiQ-designed MELACOM transceiver on board Mars Express, operating in Mars orbit since 2003. The data is now being consulted in a similar way to that gathered by an aircraft’s ‘black box’.

Paul Thompson, Electronics & Software Engineering Team Lead, QinetiQ, said: “The headlines may have focused on the loss of the Schiaparelli lander, but the space community is counting the mission’s many successes. The TGO satellite has successfully entered orbit and Schiaparelli achieved many of its objectives in testing technologies such as ours for use in future missions.

“We are naturally disappointed that our transceiver didn’t get the opportunity to transmit for the full planned mission period, but delighted that its effectiveness has been so clearly demonstrated. We’re very proud that the mission-critical data it has provided is playing such an important role.

“QinetiQ is currently building four more UHF transceivers in the UK for use on the Descent Module and Rover vehicle of a planned follow-on ExoMars 2020 mission. We can’t wait to see them in action.”

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Dnata awarded UK MHRA certification for Good Distribution Practice

Global air services provider and UK ground handler, dnata, has been awarded certification for Good Distribution Practice (GDP) by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK MHRA).

Airbus increases Sentinel-3 altimetry precision

A new highly precise MicroWave Radiometer (MWR) built by Airbus is ready to start operations after the launch of the Sentinel-3B satellite built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for this programme.

GECAS takes delivery of the first 737-800 BCF

GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) took delivery of the first 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) today landing in England which will be operated by West Atlantic Group, based in Sweden.

BA doubles Chinese cabin crew on China routes

British Airways is doubling the number of Chinese cabin crew on its flights to and from China.

Osprey wins MoD contract to deliver Military IFP to No.1 AIDU

Osprey has competitively won a three-year contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to deliver Military Instrument Flight Procedures (IFP) Maintenance and Safeguarding services to the No.1 Aeronautical Information Document

Inmarsat introduces SB-S into commercial service

Inmarsat has entered its next-generation satellite IP platform SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) into commercial service.

ODU SK191217191218
See us at
SMI HelicopterTBT1402240518SMI FAVWSBT1402060618FIL18 BT111017220718