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Exomars: Parachute test failure threatens start date



  Exomars

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Esa

Caption

The Rosalind Franklin Rover carries a drill to collect samples from below the Martian surface

A European-Russian attempt to land on Mars was struck by another parachute failure during a drop test in Sweden.

It's the second test crash involving the parachutes. I can not afford another outage.

The next test is crucial if a delay to the planned launch date of July 2020 is to be avoided.

It is planned to send a Russian ground platform and a European rover to the surface of Mars.

Rover Rosalind Franklin of the European Space Agency (ESA) will use a drill to collect soil samples and examine organic matter. This could provide clues to past or even current life on Mars.

Rosalind Franklin Marsrover nearing completion

The crashed lander was ill prepared for Mars on a carrier module during its six-minute drive to the surface.

During an altitude test on August 5 in Kiruna, Sweden, a test mass that was to represent the combined lander and rover was dropped from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, the height of 29 km.

Engineers tested the largest of two 35m diameter main parachutes to slow the vehicle down to a safe landing on Mars. The European Space Agency (ESA) says it is the largest aircraft ever to fly on a mission to Mars.

However, the test article crashed into the ground at high speed. Preliminary analysis shows that the first steps in triggering the parachute were done correctly. However, those skilled in the art discovered radial cracks in the parachute shield prior to inflation.

As a result, the test module alone dropped below the resistance of the pilot chute.

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EMMA UNDERWOOD / Airbus

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Rover Rosalind Franklin is nearing completion at the Airbus plant in Stevenage

The same tear problem was found in an earlier test on May 28 at the Esrange site of the Swedish Space Corporation. The Balloon Drop Test has been designed to test the use of the two main parachutes and the pilot parachutes to extract them from the bags of the descent module.

After this test, changes were made to the construction of the parachutes and bags did not seem to solve the problem.

"The test took place eight days ago, as you can imagine the analysis is still going on and we need to understand the root cause well because we only have one chance to fix it," said Nico Dettmann, Group Leader for Exploration projects for humans and robots at Esa.

"We have two remaining test windows, one in November, the other in February of next year, and if those tests are alright, we're on a flight in July, but if one of them fails, we do not go Risk. Our missionary success is a top priority. "

He told BBC News," However, we are confident that we will be able to find a solution and implement it in a timely manner. "

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9659003] TAS

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Kazachok Lander: The rover needs a means to bring it safely to the surface of Mars

If Exomars 2020 misses its launch window, the next opportunity to fly the mission will be in 2022 as Mars and Earth come closer.

However, Nico Dettmann emphasized that more was involved in such a decision than favorable planetary orientation. "This does not happen automatically: there are a number of programmatic issues that need to be addressed with the main actors.

" The main actors are not only our Russian partners, but also our Member States. Obviously, if we have to postpone it will cost a little more money. This is not yet discussed, as we are still confident that we can make the start of 2020.

A low-altitude test in March 2018 of dropping a test mass from a helicopter was successful

The Rosalind Franklin Rover is in the final stages of completion at Stevenage Airbus in the UK The engineers have go through the final tasks of assembly and expect the six-wheeled vehicle to come out before August

The Kazachok landing platform of Roscosmos (the name means "little Cossack") will carry a number of instruments used in countries such as Belgium, Spain and Finland were developed in addition to the experiments built in Russia.

As of today, the mission will be launched in July next year with a Russian proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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