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Home / Science / ExoMars outages could jeopardize 2020 launch date – Spaceflight Now

ExoMars outages could jeopardize 2020 launch date – Spaceflight Now



The Parachute ExoMars deployment sequence that places a surface platform and rover on the Martian surface. The graphics are not to scale and the colors of the parachutes are for illustrative purposes only. Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that a parachute for the ExoMars rover mission, scheduled to launch next July, failed during a test over Sweden, the project's second parachute accident since May ,

High altitude parachute test The 5th of August was a setback for the ExoMars team, as the engineers are working towards a 19-day launch window, which will open on July 25, 2020 Similar incident May 28.

Four parachutes – two pilot chutes and supersonic and subsonic main chutes – will slow the ExoMars lander after entering the Martian atmosphere. The lander will drop the parachutes and detonate rockets to slowly settle on the Martian surface.

After the accident on May 28, the engineers made changes to the critical parachute system, but the follow-up test also encountered problems, the ESA said Monday. ESA and industry teams conducted both tests at the Esrange Space Center, which is operated by the Swedish Space Corp. was operated in northern Sweden.

"Preliminary evaluation showed that the first steps were completed correctly, but damage to the canopy was observed prior to inflation, similar to the previous test," ESA said about the test on 5 August. "As a result, the test module sank alone under the pressure of the pilot chute."

During the test on May 28, the engineers tested all four parachutes in the ExoMars Landing System after dropping a test vehicle from a stratospheric balloon over 29 kilometers (95,000 feet) in height.

During a normal landing sequence, a pilot is to pull out and deploy a 15 meter (49 foot) supersonic main parachute, a larger version of the successfully flown parachute with disc space on Europe's Huygens probe at Saturn's moon Titan. As soon as the vehicle slows down below the speed of sound, a second pilot takes out a 35-meter main subsonic parachute, which will be the largest ever to fly on Mars, and which uses a different "ring-slot" construction to produce more Resistance.

In a statement on Monday, ESA said the "overall sequence" was completed during the May 28 test and that all deployment mechanisms worked as intended. Both main parachutes had cracks in their fabric, but the chutes produced a "good level of expected drag," the ESA said.

After making changes to the parachutes and their bags, the ground crews advanced with a second high-speed flight. On August 5, an altitude test was conducted focusing only on the larger subsonic main parachute, according to the ESA. This test also resulted in an unsatisfactory result.

"It is disappointing that the precautionary design adjustments introduced after the anomalies of the last test did not help us succeed the second test, but as always we remain focused and strive to understand this and correct the error, to launch it next year, "said Francois Spoto, ESA's ExoMars team leader.

The ExoMars rover (foreground) built in Europe and the stationary lander built in Russia (background) are due to launch in July 2020. Credit: ESA / ATG medialab

ESA said engineers have restored all hardware from the August 5 test for inspections. The teams also analyze video and telemetry from the test to determine what went wrong.

Two more high-altitude parachute tests, one for each main parachute, are planned for the end of this year and early 2020. These tests must produce good results – and stay close to their current schedules – if the launch of the ExoMars lander is to stay on track in July or August 2020, officials said.

Parachute tests at high altitude are expensive and require prior planning. ESA said the ExoMars team is exploring the possibility of creating additional parachute test models and performing ground-based simulations to "mimic the dynamic nature of parachute extraction."

ESA also reviews NASA's expertise in the construction of Mars parachutes] The larger of the two main parachutes of the ExoMars mission operated as planned during a low-altitude fall test in Sweden last year.

The 35-meter parachute for the ExoMars mission was manufactured by the Italian company Arescosmo. The British engineering office Vorticity Ltd. is conducting the test campaign in Sweden under the supervision of the French division of Thales Alenia Space, which has overall responsibility for the ExoMars parachute system.

"It's very difficult to get to Mars and land on Mars in particular," Spoto said in a statement, "We are determined to fly a system that carries our payload safely to the surface of Mars to carry out its unique scientific mission. "

If the ExoMars lander and roving miss the launch window next year, the next opportunity will be Earth will leave on a direct flight to Mars at the end of 2022. Open the launch windows of the Mars planet About every 26 months, when Earth and Mars are in the right locations in the Solar System to enable a direct journey.

The ambitious ExoMars program is a partnership between ESA and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, the ExoMars program consists of two parts.

Launched in March 2016, the ExoMars trace gas orbiter is currently missing the Martian atmosphere with a series of science There are many tools to look for methane and a camera to map changes on the planet's surface. The Trace Gas Orbiter launched aboard a Russian proton rocket along with a DropShip named Schiaparelli, which had crashed on final final descent on the Red Planet Cosmodrome Baikonur in Kazakhstan. A carrier module manufactured in Europe will transport the ExoMars lander from Earth to Mars, where a Russian-made rampart will bring the European ExoMars rover to the surface.

The Russian descent continues to be used as a stationary lander platform Kazachok, Russian for "small Cossack" – conducts its own scientific measurements, while the European rover will drive for several kilometers and drill to a depth of 2 meters to get core samples for to collect the analysis in the on-board laboratory of the mobile robot.

Scientists have never studied such deep material beneath the surface of Mars where biomarkers and organic molecules could survive on life forms that had inhabited the planet billions of years ago when it was even warmer and wetter.

The ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin, is building an Airbus Defense and Space facility in Stevenage, England. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space

Italy has made the largest financial contribution to the ExoMars program, with Thales' Italian division responsible for all European industrial work. The United Kingdom is ExoMars' second largest lender, and the Airbus Defense and Space plant in Stevenage, north of London, is responsible for building the Rover vehicle itself.

The ExoMars rover is named after Rosalind Franklin, a British chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work helped discover the twisted double helix shape of the DNA molecule. The Rosalind Franklin vehicle, which is now in final assembly in Stevenage, is the first European Mars rover.

The Rosalind Franklin Rover and the Kazachok lander should start earlier in 2018, but officials have postponed the mission for 2020 after both vehicles were in development delays.

Jorge Vago, ESA's ExoMars project scientist, said on July 26 that the Airbus teams at Stevenage will be reviewing the main structure of the Rosalind Franklin rover using the Analytical Laboratory Drawer, an instrument box in the equipment for the discharge of rock and stone Earth has been accommodated, paired The connection of the Rover structure with the instrument housing has been an important milestone in the installation of the Rover, said Vago. The rover's drilling machine has also been installed, and the robot's suspension system and six wheels will be added later.

"At the moment, only the locomotion system is missing on the rover," Vago said in a July 26 presentation to the NASA Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group. "Everything else is already assembled."

The Rover is smaller than the NASA rover Curiosity, which is currently exploring Mars, and slightly larger than the Spirit and Opportunity rover, which landed on the Red Planet in 2004.

In March the Kazachok The landing platform reached a Thales Alenia Space facility in Turin, Italy, from the NPO Lavochkin factory in Russia. Other components of the descent module, such as the lander's aerodynamic shield and solar panels, came from Russia to Italy in June.

The Russian landing platform for the ExoMars mission is called Kazachok, Russian for "little Cossack". Roscosmos

The ExoMars cruise stage on which Lander and Rover are brought to Mars arrived in April from the German manufacturer OHB System in Turin at Thales Alenia Space UK to an Airbus facility in Toulouse, France, for environmental testing, according to ESA ,

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .


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