The first of two NASA Electra radios that will fly aboard the
The TGO is being assembled at Thales Alenia Space, in
Twin Electra ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios on the TGO will provide communication links with robots on the Martian surface -- rovers or landers. Relay of information from Mars-surface craft to Mars orbiters, then from Mars orbit to Earth, enables receiving much more data from the surface missions than would otherwise be possible.
"We are fortifying our partnership with
The Electra radio design from JPL includes special features for relay use between an orbiter and a rover or stationary lander. For example, it can actively adjust the data rate during a communication session -- slower when the orbiter is near the horizon from the surface robot's perspective, faster when it is overhead.
The planned orbit for the TGO is an advantageous one for providing relay duty. It is similar to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's at about 250 miles (400 kilometers) in altitude and nearly circular in shape. The mission will make use of Earth-based radio antenna networks operated by ESA,
JPL, a division of the
For more about the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, visit: http://exploration.esa.int/mars/46475-trace-gas-orbiter/
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