by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Mar 10, 2016
With just days to go before the departure of ExoMars, mission teams are in the final stages of their months-long training that ensures everyone knows their job the moment the mission comes alive. The ExoMars 2016 mission is set for launch at 09:31 GMT (10:31 CET) on 14 March from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a powerful Proton rocket, marking the start of a seven-month cruise to the Red Planet.
ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos space agency, and comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator. TGO will make a detailed inventory of Mars' atmospheric gases, with particular interest in rare gases like methane, while Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies to enable a controlled landing on Mars for the 2018 rover mission.
The complex and challenging mission will be operated by teams at ESA's ESOC control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, where, after months of simulations covering all phases of the journey to Mars, training is in the final, intensive phase.
Working in tight coordination
"While we'll be monitoring TGO's liftoff and the boost phase very closely, in fact, for us, the most critical moment occurs after the spacecraft separates from the launcher upper stage, when it sends its first signals," says ExoMars Spacecraft Operations Manager Peter Schmitz.
"That's the moment we've been training months for, when we establish contact, receive the first onboard status information and can start sending telecommands. That's when we'll have a mission."
Acquisition of first signal - AOS - is expected at 21:28 GMT (22:28 CET) on 14 March, just 12 hours after liftoff.
It takes a team of teams
Since November 2015, training for ExoMars has included more than 20 simulation sessions, in which teams sit in the control rooms, paced through every phase of the TGO mission, especially the launch and early orbits and the initial commissioning and cruise to Mars.
Additional simulations are planned during the interplanetary journey, focusing on critical activities such as the mid-course trajectory correction, Schiaparelli's separation and the TGO's insertion into Mars orbit.
"Training is a challenge for everyone, as it's meant to be," says Flight Director Michel Denis.
"It could be that an unforeseen problem requires a quick reaction, and this in turn requires excellent teamwork and that everyone is thoroughly familiar with his or her job.
"And these only come about through thorough in-depth and detailed planning, preparation and training."
ExoMars at ESA
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|