Brussels/Antwerp, 7 November 2019 – The Belgian instrument LaRa (Lander Radioscience) is accepted for integration on the Kazachok platform of the ExoMars 2020 mission.
Model of the LaRa instrument
The final inspection of LaRa was performed end of July at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI). Representatives of various international organisations attended to this event. In particular, Véronique Dehant, LaRa’s Project Manager (PI), and her Deputy PI Sébastien Le Maistre of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, along with Lieven Thomassen, representative of Antwerp Space, the Belgian instrument Prime Contractor, were present at this crucial moment. They were accompanied by Vaclav Valenta, ESA’s Technical Officer in the PRODEX programme (Scientific Experiment Development Programme), Russian mission experts, as well as staff members of IKI and TsNIIMash (Russian Space Research Institute).
This inspection included electrical and mechanical compatibility tests with the Russian platform. The tests were realised in a sterile environment to prevent contamination of Mars’ surface with biological traces from Earth. On November 7, the acceptance was pronounced, based on the test results during the Test Review Board (TRB). A graduation, in a way. “This is a wonderful achievement, because LaRa is the result of many years of dedicated work!”, says Véronique Dehant.
The transponder part of the instrument was developed, produced and tested by Antwerp Space and the antennas by UCLouvain. LaRa is ready for integration on the Russian Kazachok platform. The rocket launch date to Mars is planned in July 2020.
Véronique Dehant monitoring the instrument during sterile chamber testing
The LaRa instrument in a nutshell
LaRa is made of an electronic box (a coherent transponder) and three antennas: a receiving antenna and two transmitting antennas. Its purpose is to measure the rotational behaviour of Mars. This measurement will allow to extract the physical properties of the interior of the red planet, in particular its core. The LaRa scientific team is looking forward to receive data from this instrument during its operation on the surface of Mars!
Belgium, through the Belgian Federal Science Policy (BELSPO), is funding the LaRa mission with the support of the ESA PRODEX programme.
Project Manager (PI) of LaRa
Tel: +32 (0) 2 373 02 66
Contact Royal Observatory of Belgium:
Lê Binh San PHAM
Tel: +32 (0) 2 373 03 03
Contact Antwerp Space:
Tel: +32 (0) 3 829 50 07
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