Belgium will occupy a place of choice in 2020, in the second phase of the ExoMars Europe-Russia space mission, the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ORB) said on Monday, disclosing that the LaRa transmitter-receiver is billed to be the first Belgian instrument to be placed on the red planet. LaRa, which stands for “Lander Radioscience”, is an instrument of the future ExoMars 2020 landing platform. Thanks to this radioelectric transmitter-receiver that will link Mars to the satellite terminals on Earth, ORB scientists will be able to study the planet’s rotation and internal structure.
A team of researchers from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL – Catholic University of Leuven) is currently working on the design of the LaRa’s antennas.
The ORB and the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB) participated earlier in the first phase of ExoMars. Launched on the 14th of March 2016, the Schiaparelli Module, in which the ORB participated, crashed. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), for its part, has been in an almost circular orbit around Mars for weeks.
Finally, the IASB’s NOMAD instrument received the brief of studying the Martian atmosphere.
The ORB is also involved in the US InSight mission, launched on the 5th of May, which is studying the internal structure of the red planet.