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.

ESA/ASI Team at Malindi tracking station, Kenya, ready to catch the first signals from ExoMars Credit: ESA

ESA/ASI Team at Malindi tracking station, Kenya, ready to catch the first signals from ExoMars Credit: ESA

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!!

More details on the Malindi antenna in ESA web.

Comments

4 Comments

  • Christian says:

    Great job – good luck for the next days

  • Manfred Lugery says:

    Congratulations to this “Dream Team”. Well done for the acquisition of signal using the new Malindi X-band acquisition antenna. A great achievement and demonstration of skill for everybody involved.

  • Doat says:

    Great job from the team.
    Congratulations

  • Simone Pirrotta - ASI says:

    Very good job, guys! ASI/italian contribution to Exomars mission is enriched by Malindi support and we are all proud of it ! Thanks SP – PS: The “Dream-but-not-slim team” should haven’t used the S size Tshirts… if there is a spare one, please bring it to Italy 🙂

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