ExoMars passes critical milestone, bringing us closer to the Red Planet!

The Descent and Carrier modules for the ExoMars 2020 mission have been integrated in Turin. The spacecraft in launch configuration will now be shipped to Cannes for environmental tests, before the launch to Mars to search for traces of life.

The ExoMars 2020 mission is now at an advanced stage. Thales Alenia Space’s Turin plant has completed integration of the Lavochkin landing platform, dubbed Kazachok. It already includes the Rover thermostructural model, protected by the "rear jacket" of the Descent module.

Before leaving Cannes, the Rover flight model, named Rosalind Franklin, will be installed on the Kazachok landing platform together with the Carrier module (from OHB). The spacecraft will then transit via Turin,before being shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a  2020 launch to… Mars!

 

We are very proud to have reached this critical milestone for the landmark ExoMars mission" said Walter Cugno, Vice President for Exploration and Science at Thales Alenia Space. “This achievement reflects our proven experience in space exploration and the dedicated work of our experts who teamed up to meet the ultimate goal of this great European Space Agency mission, the search for life on Mars. "Thales Alenia Space’s teams have made a considerable effort to successfully complete the integration, working closely with our European and Russian partners. Conducted by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, ExoMars is a sterling example of international collaboration

About the ExoMars 2020 spacecraft

 

 

It comprises a carrier module, a descent module and the landing platform with the Rover. It will reach Mars in 2021, covering some 500 million kilometers (about 310 million miles) along the way. Once the spacecraft completes this incredible journey and the Rover’s wheels touch Martian soil, it will receive commands from the Rover Operations Control Center, via the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), already in Martian orbit, and ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

“Is there Life on Mars?”

 

 

The cornerstone of the overall program, ExoMars 2020 is a collaborative effort between ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The TGO was sent into orbit to detect any traces of gas in the Martian atmosphere, especially methane of biological origin. ESA’s Rover is a special case.

Fitted with a drill produced by Leonardo, it will be able to pierce the Martian soil up to two meters deep in an effort to find any bacteria – a major world first! Furthermore, the Rover is equipped with the Analytical Laboratory Drawer (ALD), a sort of mini-laboratory integrated at our Turin plant. Featuring a wide array of sophisticated scientific instruments, this lab will have the daunting task of analyzing the Martian soil samples for any signs of past or present life. The Trace Gas Orbiter, launched on the ExoMars 2016 mission and also under Thales Alenia Space’s responsibility, will be used to relay all communications to and from the Rover.

 

 

Venus, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, the Moon, asteroids, comets… Thales Alenia Space has always been a pivotal partner in the incredible European and international missions across the Solar System. Let’s hope that this second ExoMars mission will be a major European and global success for the greater benefit of science and to help us better understand the Universe.

* ExoMars is a joint exploration program between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, with NASA contributions, that aims to study the Martian environment, atmosphere and soil. It will lead to an enviable data harvest that will feed scientists' research for many years to come. Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor on the ExoMars missions (2016 & 2020), leading an industrial consortium. Within the consortium, Leonardo provides the soil sample drill, OHB the carrier module and various rover instruments, with the rover itself supplied by Airbus. NPO Lavochkin is responsible of the landing platform.

 

Photos Copyrights: © Thales Alenia Space &  © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes