08.09.2017 Clouds Sailing Overhead on Mars, Enhanced
08.09.2017 Clouds Sailing Overhead on Mars, Unenhanced
07.20.2017 Panorama Above 'Perseverance Valley' on Mars
07.20.2017 Compass and Scale Image for Phobos and Mars
07.20.2017 Phobos in Orbit around Mars
07.11.2017 'Nathan Bridges Dune' on a Martian Mountain
07.11.2017 'Ireson Hill' on Mount Sharp, Mars
07.11.2017 Mars 2020 CacheCam Sample Tube
06.29.2017 Traction control testing
06.21.2017 A.I. laser targeting
06.01.2017 Diagram of Lake Stratification on Mars
06.01.2017 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter By the Numbers
05.23.2017 Testing Mars 2020's Engineering Cameras
05.22.2017 NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Artist's Concept #1
05.15.2017 Putting Martian 'Tribulation' Behind
05.15.2017 From 'Tribulation' to 'Perseverance' on Mars
03.30.2017 Measuring Mars' Atmosphere Loss
03.29.2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Theisinger
03.29.2017 A Decade of Compiling the Sharpest Mars Map
03.21.2017 Break in Raised Tread on Curiosity Wheel
03.17.2017 COBALT/JPL team
03.09.2017 Back-to-Back Martian Dust Storms
02.27.2017 Swirling Dust in Gale Crater, Mars, Sol 1613
02.27.2017 Dust Devil Passes Near Martian Sand Dune
02.27.2017 Sand Moving Under Curiosity, One Day to Next
02.08.2017 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Observes Changes
01.26.2017 Mono Lake
01.25.2017 'Wing' Dike of Hardened Lava in New Mexico
01.25.2017 Blade-Like Martian Walls Outline Polygons
01.23.2017 Spirit And Opportunity By The Numbers
01.10.2017 Mars 2020 Rover - Artist's Concept
01.06.2017 Earth and Its Moon, as Seen From Mars
12.13.2016 Now and Long Ago at Gale Crater, Mars
12.13.2016 Where's Boron? Mars Rover Detects It
11.15.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, Stereo
11.03.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, in Color
Strengthening the Mars Telecommunications NetworkOn Nov. 22, 2016, a NASA radio aboard the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Trace Gas Orbiter, which arrived at Mars the previous month, succeeded in its first test of receiving data transmitted from NASA Mars rovers, both Opportunity and Curiosity.
This graphic depicts the geometry of Opportunity transmitting data to the orbiter, using the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band of radio wavelengths. The orbiter received that data using one of its twin Electra UHF-band radios. Data that the orbiter's Electra received from the two rovers was subsequently transmitted from the orbiter to Earth, using the orbiter's main X-band radio.
The Trace Gas Orbiter is part of ESA's ExoMars program. During the initial months after its Oct. 19, 2016, arrival, it is flying in a highly elliptical orbit. Each loop takes 4.2 days to complete, with distances between the orbiter and the planet's surface ranging from about 60,000 miles (about 100,000 kilometers) to less than 200 miles (less than 310 kilometers). Later, the mission will reshape the orbit to a near-circular path about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the surface of Mars.
Three NASA orbiters and one other ESA orbiter currently at Mars also have relayed data from Mars rovers to Earth. This strategy enables receiving much more data from the surface missions than would be possible with a direct-to-Earth radio link from rovers or stationary landers. Successful demonstration of the capability added by the Trace Gas Orbiter strengthens and extends the telecommunications network at Mars for supporting future missions to the surface of the Red Planet.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, designed Electra radios to include several features valuable for such data relay. Curiosity and two NASA orbiters already use Electra radios. The Electra radios on Trace Gas Orbiter (the one used for this test and an onboard spare) have improvements to enhance performance compared with the Electra capability on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been in service at Mars since 2006.
For more about ESA's ExoMars program, including TGO, visit: http://exploration.esa.int/mars/. For more information about NASA's journey to Mars, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/journeytomars .
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA