PRESS RELEASE

ExoMars 2020: LaRa will be part of the trip



Brussels, 7 November 2019 – The Belgian instrument LaRa (Lander Radioscience) is accepted for integration on the Kazachok platform of the ExoMars 2020 mission.


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 organizations attended 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).

Model of the LaRa instrument


This inspection included electrical and mechanical compatibility tests with the Russian platform. The tests were realized 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 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.


VĂ©ronique Dehant monitoring the instrument during sterile chamber testing

Véronique Dehant monitoring the instrument during sterile chamber testing

The LaRa instrument in a nutshell

LaRa consists of an electronic box (a coherent transponder) and three antennas: a receiving antenna and two transmitting antennas. Its purpose is to measure the rotational behavior 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.


LaRa website: https://lara.oma.be/ 
Twitter @LaraExoMars: https://twitter.com/LaraExoMars 



About the Royal Observatory of Belgium: 

The Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB) is a federal scientific research institute that falls under the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO). Researchers of the ROB study as well the Earth, the Sun as other bodies of the near and far universe. Science disciplines of ROB are astronomy, astrophysics, planetology, geophysics, seismology, gravimetry, spatial geodesy and solar physics. ROB also manages the Planetarium at the Heysel site. 

About Antwerp Space:

Antwerp Space N.V., a subsidiary of listed technology group OHB SE (ISIN DE0005936124), is part of OHBs Business Unit Space Systems and provides expertise as well as system solutions for European space programs and commercial space applications worldwide. Antwerp Space develops systems and satellite equipment, satellite ground control stations for the reception of data from observation satellites and for the control of spacecrafts, as well as test systems used during the integration of satellites.



Contacts science:

Véronique Dehant (FR)
Phone: +32 (0) 2 373 02 66
E-Mail: v.dehant@oma.be
Tim Van Hoolst (NL)
Phone: +32 (0) 2 373 06 68
E-Mail:t.vanhoolst@oma.be
www.astro.oma.be

Contact ROB:

Lê Binh San PHAM
Phone: +32 (0) 2 373 03 03
E-Mail: lbspham@oma.be
www.astro.oma.be

Contact Antwerp Space:

Vanessa Peeters
Phone: +32 (0) 3 829 50 07
E-Mail: vanessa.peeters@antwerpspace.be
www.antwerpspace.be