MOSCOW, May 10. /TASS/. Russia’s ground station for receiving information from the Russian-European mission ExoMars-2016 will be manufactured in the autumn of next year. After that it will go operational, a source in the space rocket industry has told TASS.
"The standard sample of the ground radio-technical system developed at the special design bureau of the Moscow Energy Institute (an affiliate of the Russian Space Systems), is to be delivered by September 2017. Its full-fledged operation will begin afterwards," the source said.
The complex will incorporate two ground stations with 64-meter antennas TNA-1500 in Medvezhyi Ozyora and TNA1500K in Kalyazin.
"The parameters of the information receiver will allow for using it for communication with other probes of the European Space Agency and NASA in deep space," he said.
According to the official, an experimental model of the ground station has been made already and it will be tested in communication sessions with the inter-planetary probe Exo-Mars. The standard system will be commissioned when the Trace Gas Orbiter slows down and begins full-fledged operation.
The Russian-European project ExoMars consists of two stages: the first mission was launched from the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan at 12:31 Moscow time on March 14. Its journey to Mars will last seven months. On October 16, the apparatuses will separate. On October 19 the Schiaparelli lander will enter the Martian atmosphere, while Trace Gas Orbiter will start orbiting Mars. It will take the orbiter another twelve months to slow down. Its instruments will be activated in the middle of 2017. Experts hope it will remain operational till the end of 2022.
The second stage of the project provides for sending to Mars a landing platform of Russian manufacture carrying a European Mars rover. The key tasks of this stage will be drilling Martian soil and analyzing its samples. Scientists hope to discover traces or organic life at a depth of several meters. Originally, the second stage of the project was scheduled for 2018. Early this month Roscosmos and the European Space Agency jointly declared the mission was postponed till 2020.