The ESA blog post Listening to an Alien Landing describes the plan to monitor a UHF beacon transmitted by Schiaparelli during it's upcoming descent and landing on Mars (2016-10-19 about 14:45 UT). The signal will be weak, and so 28 dishes of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) will be used to listen (read more here). According to the article it was specially fitted with JPL equipment in order to optimize detection of the spacecraft beacon, and relay it live to the ESA.
Is the GMRT the only instrument that is suited for this or just the most convenient?
Was the spacecraft landing time chosen so that the GMRT would be optimally located to receive the beacon?
above x2: Photo of a few of the central dishes in the GMRT array, from here.
above: altiude and azimuth of Mars as seen from the GMRT in Pune, India calculated using Skyfield note: the light time delay is about 10 minutes.
import numpy as np import matplotlib.pyplot as plt from skyfield.api import load data = load('de421.bsp') mars = data['mars'] earth = data['earth'] GMRT = earth.topos(19.0965, 74.0497) ts = load.timescale() hours = np.arange(6, 18.1, 0.5) time = ts.utc(2016, 10, 19, hours) alt, az, d = GMRT.at(time).observe(mars).apparent().altaz() plt.figure() plt.subplot(2,1,1) plt.plot(hours, alt.degrees) plt.ylim(0, None) plt.title("Mars altitude from GMRT vs hours, 2016-10-19 UT") plt.subplot(2,1,2) plt.plot(hours, az.degrees) plt.title("Mars azimuth from GMRT vs hours, 2016-10-19 UT") plt.show()