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ExoMars Rover Ready for Environmental Testing

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Rosalind Franklin ExoMars Rover, courtesy ESA

The Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover has accomplished its building actions within the UK and can now depart to France for testing underneath the circumstances of the Purple Planet’s surroundings.

The ultimate items of the rover’s scientific suite of devices have been hooked up on the Airbus Defence and Area website in Stevenage during the last weeks. The ending touches included the ‘eyes’ of the rover: the high-resolution cameras that can present panoramic and close-up photos of the terrain that the rover will discover as soon as on Mars in 2021.

The first aim of the mission is to find out if there has ever been life on Mars, and to raised perceive the historical past of water on the planet. The rover will hunt down attention-grabbing geological areas to look at with its scientific instruments and to drill to retrieve underground samples, on a quest to sort out these questions.

As such, the rover was assembled in a sterile cleanroom underneath stringent cleanliness guidelines to keep away from that organics, together with traces of human life, are by accident carried to Mars and contaminate the samples.

After 18 months of actions at Stevenage, the rover has now been sealed up and waved off from the UK. Its subsequent cease is Airbus Toulouse, France the place it’ll bear 4 months of intense testing to verify it’s appropriate with the mission operations and the martian surroundings.

“Finishing the construct of the Rosalind Franklin rover underneath the strict cleanliness necessities, with all of the science devices onboard, is a serious milestone of our ExoMars programme. It’s because of the dedication of all of the groups concerned that we’re in a position to rejoice this second in the present day,” says David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration.

“We’re trying ahead to finishing the ultimate rounds of exams earlier than the rover is said flight prepared and closed contained in the touchdown platform and descent module that can ship it safely to the floor of Mars.”

Airbus DS Bio Clear Room, Stevenage; Copyright Max Alexander, Airbus

The subsequent spherical of exams will probably be performed on vibration benches and in a chamber to simulate the vary of environmental circumstances anticipated on Mars. The rover’s devices should work in an surroundings that’s a lot harsher than skilled on Earth. For instance, Rosalind Franklin can count on temperatures dropping to –120°C outdoors, and –60°C contained in the rover. It should additionally have the ability to function in lower than one hundredth of Earth’s atmospheric strain – and in a carbon dioxide-rich environment.

In parallel the composite spacecraft comprising the service module, descent module, floor science platform and a duplicate rover may even bear environmental testing to verify it is able to endure the surroundings of area on its eight-month journey to Mars.

Final 12 months the ‘structural and thermal mannequin’ of the rover efficiently accomplished a rigorous environmental check marketing campaign. Earlier this 12 months, the analytical laboratory that can course of and analyse the drilled samples contained in the rover additionally accomplished a collection of exams to confirm that the mechanisms and devices throughout science operations can produce passable outcomes underneath these difficult circumstances.

The mission is foreseen for launch in just below a 12 months from now (the launch window is 26 July–13 August 2020) on a Russian Proton-M launcher, arriving at Mars in March 2021.

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