SCIENTIA SINICA Informationis, Volume 49, Issue 6: 775-782(2019) https://doi.org/10.1360/N112017-00120

Tracking technology of Mars spacecraft for large radio telescope

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  • ReceivedMay 27, 2017
  • AcceptedJan 27, 2018
  • PublishedJun 6, 2019


In 2020, China will launch a Mars spacecraft composed of anorbiter and lander/rover. In this paper, the tracking techniques of the Marsspacecraft for a large radio telescope are analyzed and verifiedusing the Shanghai 65 m radio telescope (Tianma telescope). The measurementresults indicate that the pointing error caused by thermal deformation ofthe antenna body, atmospheric refraction, and the light-time effect should beconsidered when a large radio telescope is used to track the Marsspacecraft. When the light-time effect is not taken into account, thereceiving power is reduced by approximately 0.8 dB. When the elevation offset is 36and 72 arcsec, the reception capacity of the Tianma telescope is reduced byapproximately 0.8 and 3.5 dB, respectively. The results of this study thus have importantimplications for the Mars exploration.

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  • Figure 1

    (Color online) (a) Measurement result in the $x$-axis direction of the inclinometer caused by thermal deformation of antenna body; (b) observation elevation andcorrection value of atmospheric refraction; (c) pointing error caused by light time; (d) relation of receiving power and pointing offset of Tianma telescope

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) (a) Tracking velocity at azimuth and elevation direction; (b)distance between MRO and the earth and its fitting residuals; (c)differences of azimuth and elevation between considering the light timeeffect or not;protectłinebreak (d) angular distance between considering the light timeeffect or not

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) Spectra of Mars in-orbit spacecraft signals received by usingTianMa telescope

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) Power reduction of the received signal with elevation offset (blackspots), theoretical curve (red line) when $\alpha~=~1.17$

  • Figure 5

    Spectra of MEX signals received by using (a) KunMing (KM), (b)TianMa (TM) telescopes; (c) the delay rate on the KM-TM baseline; (d) thecorrelation phase and the fitting residuals on the KM-TM baseline

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