The European Space Agency reported today that its Mars Express mission control team is ready to monitor the entry, descent and landing phase of Nasa's Phoenix probe as it reaches Mars on 26 May.
The recorded data will serve as a "useful and potentially crucial" back-up to compare the planned and actual descent profiles.
"We have tested a specially designed slew for our spacecraft, and scheduled a series of data downloads immediately after Phoenix's landing. Nasa will receive our recorded data about one hour later," said Michel Denis, spacecraft operations manager at ESA's Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Germany.
The Mars Express team will monitor the event from the Dedicated Control Room at ESOC.
Mission controllers will use the Melacom (Mars Express Lander Communications) system to point towards Phoenix during EDL. The radio instrument was originally intended for communications with the Beagle 2 lander.
"Our Melacom data will enable Nasa to confirm the Phoenix lander's descent characteristics, including speed and acceleration through the Mars atmosphere," said Peter Schmitz, deputy spacecraft operations manager and project lead for Mars Express Phoenix support activities.
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