There is a concern that the European-Russian mission ExoMars 2020 could become ExoMars 2022.
The problem involves parachute testing and a series of stumbling attempts when trying to qualify for the descent system. The ExoMars team continues to investigate parachute design following an unsuccessful high-altitude drop test last week. The surface science platform, named Kazachok, is scheduled to launch next summer and launch on the Red Planet in March 2021.
See also: How the European-Russian ExoMars missions work (infographic)
If the mission missed the launch window in 2020, it would have to wait at least 2022 for the next opportunity wait to take off. (Mars mission launch windows only open once every 26 months.)
Several ExoMars parachute tests were conducted at a site of the Swedish Space Corporation, officials of the European Space Agency (ESA) wrote a statement yesterday (1
The first such test took place last year. It was the largest main parachute, 35 meters wide – larger than any chute ever flown on a Mars mission. A helicopter dropped the slide from a height of 1.2 kilometers and the parachute was successfully deployed and inflated, ESA officials said.
But two consecutive tests did not go that well.
"On May 28 of this year, the deployment sequence of all four parachutes was tested for the first time from a height of 29 km [18 miles] – helium balloon fired from a stratosphere," ESA officials wrote in the statement. "While the triggering mechanisms were activated correctly and the overall sequence was completed, both major canopy shelters suffered damage ."
The ExoMars team made a number of changes to the design of the parachute system before the next height trial on August 5, focusing only on the 115-foot-wide slide. The results were similar to those of the previous experiment: The first steps were performed correctly, but the well was damaged before being inflated. "It is disappointing that the precautionary design adjustments introduced after the anomalies of the last test did not help us successfully pass the second test." but as always, we remain focused and working to understand and correct the mistake to launch it next year, "said ESA ExoMars team leader Francois Spoto in the statement.
The team is planning another high-altitude trial of the large main parachute before the end of 2019. The next qualification attempt of the second parachute is then expected for early 2020.
Related: Occupy Mars: History of Robot Emissions of the Red Planet (infographic)  Sizes of key components of the Mission ExoMars 2020. "class =" lazy-image lazy-image-loading lazyload optional-image "onerror =" this.parentNode.replaceChild (window.missingImage (), this) "sizes =" auto "data-normal =" https : //vanilla.futurecdn.net/space/media/img/missing-image.svg "src =" https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/jtj7uYLoULU5CZuTMBTusU-320-80.jpg "srcset =" https : //cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/jtj7uYLoULU5CZuTMBTusU-320-80.jpg 320w, https: //cdn.mos.cms.future cdn.net/jtj7uYLoULU5CZuTMBTusU-650-80.jpg 650w "data-sizes =" auto "data-original-mos =" https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/jtj7uYLoULU5CZuTMBTusU.jpg "data-pin-media = "https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/jtj7uYLoULU5CZuTMBTusU.jpg" />
[Photo credit: ESA]
There are not many ways Understand the problem of performing additional full drop tests at high altitude. Therefore, ExoMars teams are also considering building more parachute test models and performing ground-based simulations to better understand the complex, dynamic process of parachute extraction, ESA officials said.
ESA and NASA experts meet regularly to exchange views on space science and technology. In addition to these forums, Mars parachute specialists will come to a workshop next month to fix the issues.
The upcoming ExoMars mission has a much more complex parachute deceleration system than NASA Mars missions.
It is not clear if ExoMars is experiencing a parachute problem or other parachute-related issues.
Under the Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA) and discussions may be confused between ESA and NASA Rules and Regulations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
NASA Bites the Nails
On the NASA side, the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project – Spirit and Opportunity – went through a similar biting experience as parachuting. Testing at California's China Lake has caused problems. A revision of the chute was required, along with the use of the National Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC) at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley October 2007 and April 2009 at the NFAC. This parachute had 80 hangers that were more than 50 meters long and 16 meters in diameter.
Spirit, opportunity and curiosity all landed safely on Mars. The curiosity started in August 2012 and Spirit and Opportunity landed a few weeks apart in January 2004.
The European-Russian ExoMars program consists of two phases. The first phase launched the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a land demonstrator named Schiaparelli in March 2016. TGO safely reached the Martian orbit, but Schiaparelli crashed for his data breach in October 2016 .
Rosalind Franklin and Kazachok represent the second phase of ExoMars. Europe built the Rover, while Russia delivered the Kazachok Lander .
NASA plans to bring a rover to life hunt on the Red Planet next summer. The Mars 2020 Rover is heavily based on Curiosity and will use its descent system, which depends on parachutes and a rocket propelled sky crane .
Leonard David is the author of the recently published book, " Moon Rush: The New Space Race ", published by National Geographic in May 2019. As a longtime author for Space.com [FormorethanfiveyearsDavidhasbeenreportingonthespaceindustryfordecadesFollowusonTwitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .