14.04.2020

Liulin-MO on ExoMars TGO turned on again

After a brief shutdown of science instruments and a period in ‘safe standby’ due to Coronavirus 19 pandemic, ESA’s planetary missions are getting back, including ExoMars TGO mission.

The Liulin-MO dosimeter, developed at STRI-BAS, successfully operated aboard TGO during its transit to Mars in 2016, on the first High elliptic Mars orbits in October 2016 – March 2017, and on Mars circular orbit since April 2018 till noon March 28, 2020, when it was turned off together with all science instruments. Liulin-MO is a module of the Russian FREND instrument on TGO.

On 09 April 2020 Liulin-MO dosimeter was turned on again. Since then it operates nominally and continue to provide valuable science data for the radiation conditions in Mars orbit.

Liulin-MO was developed at STRI-BAS. Its development was supported by 2 Contracts of SRTI-BAS with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences –Moscow (IKI-RAS) and by a project under inter-academic cooperation between SRTI-BAS, IKI-RAS and the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The operations works and Liulin-MO data analysis in SRTI-BAS are supported by Contract No. 4000117692/16/NL/NDe funded by the Government of Bulgaria through an ESA Contract under the PECS (Plan for European Cooperating States).

30.03.2020

SPACE ALSO IN QUARANTEEN!

On March 24, 2020 the European Space Agency (ESA) declared scaling down science missions operations amid pandemic. ESA restricted the on-site personnel at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt. The new adjustments require temporarily stopping instrument operation and data gathering on four Solar System science missions, which have stable orbits and long mission durations but their operations currently require the highest number of personnel on site.

- Two of these missions were lunched quite a while ago, but instruments are still alive and provide data – Cluster (2000) and Mars Express (2003);

- The newest Solar Orbiter, lunched in February 2020, the science instruments on which are not even powered yet;

- And to our regret ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), launched in 2016, currently in orbit around Mars.

The Liulin-MO instrument, developed at STRI-BAS, successfully operated aboard TGO during its transit to Mars in 2016, on the first High elliptic Mars orbits in October 2016 – March 2017, and on Mars circular orbit since April 2018 till noon March 28, 2020, when it was turned off together with all science instruments. From 28th March 2020 onwards Science and Relay operations of TGO will be suspended until further notice.

The development of Liulin-MO was supported by 2 Contracts of SRTI-BAS with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences –Moscow (IKI-RAS) and by a project under inter-academic cooperation between SRTI-BAS, IKI-RAS and the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The operations works and Liulin-MO data analysis in SRTI-BAS are supported by Contract No. 4000117692/16/NL/NDe funded by the Government of Bulgaria through an ESA Contract under the PECS (Plan for European Cooperating States).

30.03.2020

ExoMars to take off for the Red Planet in 2022

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Roscosmos Space Corporation have decided to postpone the launch of the second ExoMars mission to study the Red Planet to 2022. They announced their decision on 12 March 2020.

The primary goal of the mission is to determine if there has ever been life on Mars, and to better understand the history of water on the planet.

To date, all flight hardware needed for the launch of ExoMars has been integrated in the spacecraft. The "Kazachok" landing platform is fully equipped with thirteen scientific instruments, and the "Rosalind Franklin" rover with its nine instruments recently passed final thermal and vacuum tests in France.

One of the science instruments aboard the landing platform is the dosimeter "Liulin-ML", developed at SRTI-BAS. "Liulin-ML" is a module of the gamma and neutron detector ADRON-EM. "Liulin-ML" passed successfully al tests in Bulgaria, Russia and France.

In the test and calibrations of the dosimeter scientists from the Space research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences -Moscow, Russia and Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia also take part.

In SRTI-BAS the work on Liulin-ML is supported by Contract No. 4000117692/16/NL/NDe funded by the Government of Bulgaria through an ESA Contract under the PECS (Plan for European Cooperating States).

2018

ExoMars News: Liulin-MO Operates on Mars Orbit!

The Trace Gas Orbiter satellite launched under the ESA-Roscosmos project ExoMars reached Mars in October 2016. During TGO transit to Mars our dosemeter Liuli-MO (a unit of the Russian neutron detector FREND) performed perfectly and we obtained unique results about the radiation environment along an Earth-Mars journey. These results are already published in ICARUS journal: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2017.12.034.

The initial Mars capture orbit of TGO was highly elliptic (about 96 000 x 300 km) with an orbital period of nearly 4 Mars days. On March 15, 2017 the delicate aerobraking phase started. The maneuvers aimed to decrease satellite’s velocity and to lower down its orbit. All TGO capacities were directed to execute the quite risky operations as during aerobraking the vehicle is heated and the solar panels and the science instruments could be damaged. On February 20, 2018 the aerobraking phase was successfully finished: TGO reached an orbit with parameters 1050 x 200 km.

On March 12, 2018 started the first checking of the science instruments after the aerobraking, the instruments were sequentially turned on. LIULIN-MO BEGAN OPERATING SUCCESSFULLY AFTER AN YEAR OF SILENCE!

TGO has not yet reached its scientific circular orbit with an altitude about 400 km and a 2 hours period. In order to reach this orbit satellite’s engines will be 10 times switched on till mid April. But we expect that Liulin-MO will be operating at full mode at the end of March.