Posted on 14 March 2016 by Daniel
To catch a signal
This is the joint ESA/ASI engineering team at Malindi ground station, in Kenya, seen a couple days ago during the final ExoMars launch rehearsal. They will be the most-watched team anywhere later tonight, when their 2m-diameter tracking antenna is pointed at the expected location of ExoMars/TGO to catch its first signals from space.
Following separation from the Breeze upper stage at about 21:12 CET, ExoMars/TGO will execute an automatic sequence, slewing itself toward the Sun, deploying its solar arrays and powering up its communication system.
From then on, Malindi station could receive the first signals (referred to as ‘AOS’ for ‘Acquisition of Signal’) at almost any time; practically speaking, the signal is expected not earlier than 22:25 CET and most likely around 22:29 CET.
The team at Malindi station will be connected via data links to the Main Control Room at ESOC, where the Ground Operations Manager will watch in real time on a computer display to see when the radio energy transmitted by ExoMars starts flowing into their antenna.
When the squiggly little oscilloscope graph jumps, then Malindi will have caught it!
There will also be a confirmation via the voice loop from Malindi to ESOC.
Best wishes to the entire team down in Kenya for a smooth AOS!!