GMRT provides monitoring support for ExoMars mission; Detects UHF radio si
TIFR’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), on 16 Oct 2016, detected the first UHF radio signals emitted by the space probe of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Mission. The GMRT is providing monitoring support to the ExoMars Mission as the earth based radio facility. The mission
(see http://exploration.esa.int/mars/46124-mission-overview/ for details) aims to explore various properties of Mars.
The GMRT achieved this historic target at the time of separation of the lander module (Schiaparelli) from the Orbiter, as they neared Mars after a 6 months journey from Earth.
Importantly, the GMRT tracked the lander module all the way into its last phases of descent into the Martian atmosphere, an event that is very complex and hazardous.
This signal detection, at 401 MHz (made possible by the upgraded GMRT feeds and receivers), was made with a phased array voltage signal from the GSB, further processed through special processing software developed in collaboration with colleagues from JPL (who are key players in providing ground observatory support facility for such space missions) to produce a narrow band spectra of ~ few kHz BW with 1 Hz resolution, centred around the desired frequency of the signal.
This is a milestone in the history of GMRT as it now enters the realm of planetary space missions.
The spectra from the GMRT were transmitted live to the ESA mission control room in Germany and were an integral part of the missions monitoring procedure.
Contributions to this work have been made by colleagues and team members from GMRT (especially the back-end team), and Kishalay De (from IISc, now at Caltech). Stephan Esterhuizen and Sami Asmar, from JPL, have been the main drivers from NASA for this project, and also as the interface between GMRT and ESA.
Prof. Yashwant Gupta
Phone: +91-20-25719242/25691620 (Pune); +91-2132-252119/258316 (GMRT)