Europe’s Mars artificial satellite relays information from Chinese rover back to Earth
The European area Agency’s Mars specific collected information from China’s Zhurong Mars rover and with success sent it to Earth following a series of experimental communications tests.
The Zhurong rover was designed solely to speak with its companion artificial satellite, Tianwen 1; but, the rover has long outlived its planned mission and also the artificial satellite isn’t any longer ready to do the maximum amount information relaying. thus China associated Europe set to do an experiment: Send information from Zhurong to Mars specific to Earth. that is difficult, since the robots’ communications instrumentality does not match. Zhurong will transmit at a frequency Mars specific will observe, however not the other way around, thus Zhurong sends information while not hearing back from the artificial satellite.
On Nov. 20, Mars specific passed two,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) higher than Zhurong’s location in Utopia Planitia, received a batch of information, then transmitted the info across 230 million miles (370 million km) of area to European area Operations Center ground stations, that then forwarded the info to the Peking part control Center.
“Mars specific with success received the signals sent by the rover, and our colleagues within the Zhurong team confirmed that each one the info arrived on Earth in excellent quality,” Gerhard Billig, a systems engineer at the eu area Agency (ESA), same in a very statement.
Mars rovers collect a wealth of science information down on the surface however do not carry massive communications arrays. Insead, they consider orbiters to relay their high volumes of information across the inner system to Earth.
Normally a rover and artificial satellite can exchange short messages to ascertain two-communications and transmit information. But, in keeping with ESA, Mars specific transmits its “hello” signal victimization communication frequencies that square measure totally different from those the Chinese Zhurong Mars rover receives, creating two-way communication not possible. However, Zhurong will transmit signals employing a frequency that Mars specific will receive, thus ESA applied a primary check of a unidirectional communication technique: communication “in the blind,” wherever the sender cannot be positive if their signal is being received.
Zhurong, China’s initial Mars rover, landed on the terrestrial planet in could this year and has been exploring Utopia Planitia. With solely atiny low antenna on the rover, its companion Tianwen one artificial satellite has been relaying Zhurong’s science information to Earth. however with the beginning of Tianwen 1’s own science mission in November, the opportunities for relaying the precious data from Zhurong are reduced. Instead, the artificial satellite is concentrated on mapping Mars.
Existing cooperation between ESA and also the China National area Administration (CNSA) opened the means for a series of 5 communications tests between Mars specific and Zhurong, all applied in November. (ESA conjointly provided ground station support for varied moments throughout Tianwen one and Zhurong’s journey to Mars.)
Mars specific received a sign throughout every of the 5 tests, however throughout four of those, the received information was corrupted, associate ESA exponent told area.com via email. throughout associate investigation into the glitches, interference from another unit on Mars specific was deemed accountable.
The fourth check, on Nov. 20, yielded results, however, because the artificial satellite with success collected 233 kilobytes of information and sent it on to Earth. The mission groups square measure currently arrangement extra tests. “We’re wanting forward to closing additional tests within the future to still experiment and additional improve this methodology of human action between area missions,” Billig same.
Teams can check once Mars specific can have visibility of the Zhurong rover which the tests are compatible with the orbiter’s science set up. subsequent check would examine totally different bit rates and flight durations, ESA said.
“In principle, it’d be potential for Mars specific to play a proper relay role for Zhurong within the future, however this may got to be in agreement between the 2 area agencies,” the ESA exponent noted to area.com.
Mars specific has been in orbit round the terrestrial planet since Dec 2003. Its activities embrace discovering methane series within the Martian atmosphere, mapping the composition of polar ice and tentatively detective work subterranean water below the pole.
A China satellite Exploration Project report on the communications check conjointly discovered that Zhurong has coated a complete of four,255 feet (1,297 meters) in 196 Martian days, or sols, since landing on could fourteen.
Zhurong had already coated four,111 feet (1,253 meters) by early November, suggesting that the rover has been disbursal time analyzing a sediment-filled trough with its science payloads instead of pushing south.