Mars probe sent as a result of cooperation of ESA and Roscosmos performed yesterday successful course correction necessary for continuing mission according to plan.
Maneuver was performed on July 28, 2016 at 09:30 GMT after Mission Control Center in Korolev sent command to start main engine of TGO remaining 83 million kilometers from Earth; support and additional monitoring was provided by ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt, Germany, which was receiving signals from TGO via 35 m dish antenna at New Norcia, Australia (ESTRACK satellite ground station, first deep space radio station by ESA operating since 2003). After starting 424 N bi-propellant thruster, TGO received impulse of 326 m/s which last for 52 minutes to make possible correct injection into Mars orbit on October. It is first maneuver of TGO – since March 14, probe performed only two test fires on June 18 and July 21 and both gave positive results. Next course corrections are planned for 11 August (another longer burn), 19 September and 14 October (short burns).
TGO and Schiaparelli lander were part of the joint Mars mission conducted by Roscosmos and ESA. Both were launched on March 14, 2016 on atop of Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site 200/39. Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli Entry and Descent Module should reach Mars on October 2016. Then probe will deploy Schiaparelli, which will enter into Mars atmosphere with speed of 21000 km/h, land using parachute on Mars surface on Meridiani Planum to perform series of scientific experiments regarding weather on Mars. Schiaparelli, equipped in non-rechargeable battery will remain operational for 3 days and use its Dust Characterization, Risk Assessment, and Environment Analyser on the Martian Surface payload to gather data helpful in creating characteristics of winds, humidity, temperature, atmosphere and pressure on Red Planet. In the same time TGO will remain on Martian orbit on altitude of 400 km and start on December 2016 to conduct experiments, which will improve knowledge on Methane sources on Mars. Maps created basing on data gathered by TGO will help in choosing landing zone for Mars rover planned as final part of ExoMars for 2021. Trace Gas Orbiter will remain on orbit and using its solar arrays it will continue research for five years.