EUROPE'S EXOMARS ROVER EDGES CLOSER TO ITS LAUNCH

The European Mars rover completes a full set of key tests ahead of its launch in summer.

The ExoMars Rover was named after an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer, named Rosalind Franklin.

The machine currently is under development by Airbus Defence and Space, being developed and tested at the company’s UK facility in Stevenage, UK. 

The European Space Agency announces that the rover is scheduled to leave Earth sometime between 26 July and 11 August. 

Given the harsh environment in the present day, any biology is most likely to be found underground and the mars rover will carry a drill; which will dig down up to 2m to find the samples for its on-board laboratory to investigate.  

Some systems test remain and then Rosalind Franklin will be ready

Developments have been added, such a thermal-vacuum was put in, which was manufactured by Airbus,  to help the robot deal with the hot and cold weather conditions it will deal with on its journey to the ‘Red Planet’.

Once all the testing is finished at Airbus’ factory in Toulouse, France, Rosalind Franklin will be moved to Cannes.

It’s in the Mediterranean town that prime contractor Thales Alenia Space (TAS) has one of its main satellite integration facilitates.

NASA has been running parachute deployment tests using modified bags. The tests are carried out on a high-velocity wire at the American agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California. 

The chute tests in California use a high speed line

 Dr David Parker, Esa’s director of human and robotic exploration said:

“We started a sequence of ground tests and we reported publicly before Christmas that the first three were successful,” said Dr David Parker, Esa’s director of human and robotic exploration.

“I can tell you a fourth test happened on Monday which was the full deployment speed of the large main parachute – so 50m/s deployment of the 35m parachute – and it also was successful.

“We are now shifting our focus to doing two high-altitude drop tests to be carried out in Oregon in the US using the modified bags.

“They’re planned for February and March, and only when we’ve completed those tests will we know that we have a system that’s safe to launch.”

If the tests, which will be conducted from stratospheric balloons, repeat past tearing and show up new problems, the rover mission will be postponed.

This would mean a delay of two years. This is the period it takes for Mars and Earth to realign their orbits.

Bernardo Patti, a senior official in the human and robotic exploration directorate told the BBC:

“We don’t think too much about Plan B because if you do, it’s already become Plan A,”

“We are engineering positive. People are working incredibly hard. You should see the commitment,”.

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