Interplanetary cooperation: Mars Express to track Curiosity's dramatic landing on Mars
Welcome to our new Mars Express blog platform (the venerable and hugely valuable MEX blog archive remains available in the Lifetype platform here) where we're delighted to kick-off publishing with our a report on Mars Express' support to Curiosity's arrival at Mars.
On 6 August, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission will conduct a spectacular landing to deliver Curiosity – the largest planetary rover ever flown – onto the Red Planet. ESA’s Mars Express will support the mission’s progress, recording crucial flight data right until ‘wheels down’ on the alien surface.
Mars Express support to NASA MSL arrival at Mars Credit: NASA/ESA
At around 07:10 CEST, Mars Express will point its MELACOM communication antenna towards the trajectory of NASA's MSL and start recording its arrival at the Red Planet early in the morning of the 6th. The data will provide an important and potentially crucial back-up to NASA's own data and will help reconstruct the entry profile; MSL is also being tracked by NASA's Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.
Furthermore, several of ESA's ESTRACK ground stations – the massive 35m deep-space antennas at Cebreros, Spain, and New Norcia, Australia – will also be involved.
Mars Express tracks Curiosity's arrival at Mars Credit: ESA/NASA
There's a nice web report today in the main ESA web portal (see "ESA's Mars Express to support dramatic landing on Mars"). For a fuller, more detailed technical overview of Mars Express involvement in NASA's historic mission, click on the 'Continue reading' link below.
In the next two weeks, we'll provide regular updates here in the blog as the Mars Express team at ESA get ready for landing.
And don't miss NASA's great '7 Minutes of Terror video'!