|Big dishes band together|
New Norcia, Western Australia
25 August 2017
Earlier this month, radio dishes fr om three deep-space networks combined to catch faint ‘survival’ whispers from one of ESA’s Mars orbiters, underlining the value of international collaboration for exploring the Red Planet.
For the first time ever, deep-space ground stations from ESA, NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos joined together, on 13 August, to receive ultra-faint signals from ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, now circling Mars.
Engineers carefully designed the test to probe the limits of what their ground stations could achieve, and confirm that all three could catch signals from the orbiter should it ever switch itself into the low-power, minimal ‘survival mode’.