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

Airbus publishes Brexit risk assessment

Airbus has today published a risk assessment outlining the urgent risks to its business arising from the UK exiting the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.

UKEF helps aerospace exporters gain £500m in overseas sales

UK Export Finance (UKEF) today published its annual report and accounts, showing government-backed finance and insurance helped UK aerospace achieve over half a billion pounds in overseas sales in 2017-18.

Stansted awarded globally recognised carbon neutral airport status

London Stansted has been awarded Level 3+ carbon neutral status by the Airports Council International (ACI), in recognition of its extensive work to reduce and offset carbon emissions at Londonís fastest growing airport.

Cranfield Uni wins NATO Excellence Award

A team from Cranfield University has won a NATO Excellence Award for a workshop delivered to assist with monitoring and controlling toxic contamination on live-fire military ranges.

Aerospace industry adaptation

Neil Cayley, Lead Consultant at Jonathan Lee Contract Recruitment, explores current issues affecting the aerospace industry and explains why adaption is vital to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Esriís ArcGIS Online to provide info platform for Autonomous Warrior 2018

Esri UKís cloud-based mapping and analytics platform, ArcGIS Online, will provide the vital information integration and collaboration platform for Autonomous Warrior, part of the 2018 Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) series.

ODU SK191217191218
See us at
SMIFAVSBT151118DVD18BT3105200918AdvancedEngin BT1406011118FIL18 BT111017220718SMI GMSCBT3005081118