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QinetiQ role in Mars mission
SCIENTISTS working for QinetiQ are playing a key role in the latest mission to Mars.
A communications device designed by the firm, which has a base at Boscombe Down, monitored Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) through entry, descent and landing on the surface of the planet on Monday.
And the Mars Express Lander Communications (Melacom) transceiver, currently in orbit on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express, will continue to support the mission by relaying data and pictures to Earth.
Sanjay Razdan, managing director new technologies at QinetiQ said: “This is a landmark achievement for the QinetiQ Space Team, and sets a solid base for future innovations. We are also currently developing the next generation of the UHF transceiver, which will be used as the communications system on the Mars landers for ESA’s upcoming ExoMars missions.
“This is not the first time that QinetiQ’s transceiver has been used to support a NASA Martian mission. In 2008 the transceiver was used to monitor the entry, descent and landing of the Phoenix Lander, and has acted as one of the relays for NASA’s Opportunity Rover, which is still active on the surface of Mars.”
The transceiver has been thoroughly tested to ensure compatibility with NASA’s assets. Both an interoperability test on Earth and a Mars-based rehearsal have been performed successfully ahead of the arrival of MSL to the Red Planet.
QinetiQ, which employs 11,000 people worldwide, deals in top-of-the-range technology used in many fields, from space travel and forensic science to operations in Afghanistan. It is not the first time that the transceiver has been used to support a Nasa mission to Mars. In 2008 the transceiver was used to monitor the entry, descent and landing of the Phoenix Lander, and has acted as one of the relays for Nasa's Opportunity Rover, which is still active on the surface of the planet.