ExoMars TGO: a critical data relay platform in Mars orbit
On 18 February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed in Jerezo crater on Mars to begin a crucial exploration mission, recently performing its first drive. The rover will look for signs of ancient life, as well as study the evolution of Mars’ climate, surface and the interior of the planet. The rover will test out technologies for future human exploration of Mars. In addition to these science goals, Perseverance has a unique goal of collecting and caching samples of Mars material for possible future return.
One of the European Space Agency’s flagship missions, the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, is serving as a critical data relay platform in orbit at Mars, catching data signals from the rover and relaying them back to NASA ground stations. This low-latency data relay support is provided as part of the Mars Relay Network.
To provide this vital service, ExoMars TGO is flown and operated via ESA’s own ground station network, known as Estrack.