JPL launches space radios… to Mars

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Blastoff happened a half a world away, but scientists at La Canada’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are overseeing a couple of radios that were rocketed into space Monday from Kazakhstan.

Those radios were designed by JPL, bound for Mars aboard a European Space Agency craft.

They’re expected to provide enhanced communication between landers on the planet’s surface and a satellite orbiting above.

JPL’s Phillip Barela is project manager for NASA’s role in the ExoMars mission.

That communication is expected to increase the amount of data sent back to Earth.

The so-called ExoMars mission is carrying two Electra UHF, or ultra-high frequency, radios.

If all goes well, it’ll make it to the Red Planet is about seven months.

With an improvement in communication, the Electra radios would be able to adjust the data transmission rate, based on the proximity of the lander on the surface and the orbiter above.

That, according to JPL, will beef up the data coming back to Earth because the other radios that are there are only half as strong.