VIDEO - ExoMars: is there "Life on Mars?"
Articled updated in Oct. 2016
ExoMars is a space exploration program that aims to discover any traces of Life on Mars. Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor on the ExoMars missions, that will generate a mother lode of data, feeding researchers for many years to come!
ExoMars: 1 program, 2 missions, in 2016 and 2020
After the Curiosity mission, Thales Alenia Space is heading for Mars! The aim of this program is to study the Martian environment, atmosphere and soil, leading to an enviable data harvest that will feed scientists' research for many years to come.
ExoMars is in fact a joint program between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. The 2016 mission aims to demonstrate Europe's ability to land a probe on the Red Planet. Meanwhile, the Orbiter will help determine the landing site for the 2020 mission. During this second mission a descent module will place a rover on Mars. This rover will in particular drill into the Martian soil to take samples and perhaps discover any traces of life. The first launch is scheduled for March 2016 and the second in 2020.
Thales Alenia Space's contribution
Thales Alenia Space is overall program prime contractor. For the 2016 mission, it is in charge of the complete design, development, integration, testing and preparation for launch of the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator (EDM) and the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) modules. For the 2020 mission, the company is in charge of the overall system design, developing the navigation and guidance system for the orbiter and descent modules, designing the Rover's system, and building the analysis lab to be integrated on the rover. This is the lab with the famous drill, capable of digging into the Martian soil to a depth of two meters and gathering samples.
Venus, Mars, Titan, asteroids and comets… Thales Alenia Space is a long-standing partner in Europe's fantastic voyages across the Solar System.
As on ExoMars, Thales Alenia Space was prime for Herschel and Planck, the largest space observatories ever developed in Europe. It also integrated and developed Corot, the French exoplanet hunter, and built 25 parabolic antennas for the European section of the ALMA system in Chile. Thales Alenia Space was in charge of the assembly, integration and testing of the Rosetta probe, playing a leading role in the fantastic Rosetta-Philae mission. In 2015, Thales Alenia Space celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Cassini-Huygens mission, which explored the atmospheric layers of Titan. The Huygens probe was built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor. The next scientific challenge awaiting Thales Alenia Space is the European program Euclid, which will help us better understand dark matter.