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Telecommunications relay support of the Mars Phoenix Lander mission

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15 Author(s)
Edwards, C.D. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; Bruvold, K.N. ; Erickson, J.K. ; Gladden, R.E.
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The Phoenix Lander, first of NASA's Mars Scout missions, arrived at the Red Planet on May 25, 2008. From the moment the lander separated from its interplanetary cruise stage shortly before entry, the spacecraft could no longer communicate directly with Earth, and was instead entirely dependent on UHF relay communications via an international network of orbiting Mars spacecraft, including NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey (ODY) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft, as well as ESA's Mars Express (MEX) spacecraft. All three orbiters captured critical event telemetry and/or tracking data during Phoenix entry, descent and landing. During the Phoenix surface mission, ODY and MRO provided command and telemetry services, far surpassing the original data return requirements. The availability of MEX as a backup relay asset enhanced the robustness of the overall relay plan. In addition to telecommunications services, Doppler tracking observables acquired on the UHF link yielded a highly accurate position for the Phoenix landing site.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2010 IEEE

Date of Conference:

6-13 March 2010

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