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Raumfahrt - ESA ExoMars Mission 2016 - Update-1

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18.06.2013

ESA’s mission to Mars in 2016 has entered the final stage of construction with the signature of a contract today with Thales Alenia Space at the Paris Air & Space Show.
ExoMars will fly two missions, in 2016 and 2018, in a partnership between ESA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. Its main goal is to answer one of the outstanding scientific questions of our time: has life ever existed on Mars?
In addition, ExoMars will develop new European technical capabilities in landing, roving, drilling and preparing samples to pave the way for a future Mars sample-return mission in the 2020s.
The first mission will be launched in 2016 and will include the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) to search for evidence of methane and other atmospheric gases that could be signs of active biological or geological processes.
It will also deliver the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) to the surface of Mars, to demonstrate key technologies needed for the 2018 mission and future landing missions.
The 2018 mission will land a rover on Mars – the first with the capability of drilling to depths of 2 m to collect samples that have been shielded from the harsh conditions on the surface, where radiation and oxidants can destroy organic materials.
In addition, the 2018 mission carries a Surface Platform with scientific instruments to investigate the martian environment.
The agreement, signed today in the ESA pavilion at the Paris Air & Space Show, marks a major milestone for the mission and for Thales Alenia Space, the industrial prime contractor on ExoMars.
“The award of this contract provides continuity to the work of the industrial team members of Thales Alenia Space on this complex mission, and will ensure that it remains on track for launch in January 2016,” noted Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
The agreement was signed by Prof Giménez and Vincenzo Giorgio, Vice President Exploration & Science of Thales Alenia Space during a ceremony attended by the Agency’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain. Also attending were Maria Carrozza, the Italian Minister for Education, Universities and Research, Enrico Saggese, President of the Italian space agency, and Jean-Loïc Galle, CEO of Thales Alenia Space.
For the 2016 mission, Thales Alenia Space Italy is building the EDM, which is currently completing structural tests at the company’s laboratories in Turin. TGO’s orbiter is being built at Thales Alenia Space’s site in Cannes, France.
The first mission will be launched in January 2016, arriving at Mars nine months later. The second mission is scheduled for launch in May 2018, arriving at the planet in early 2019.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 4.02.2014
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EXOMARS  ORBITER CORE MODULE COMPLETED
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The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module consisting of the spacecraft structure, thermal control and propulsion systems was handed over by OHB System to Thales Alenia Space France at a ceremony held in Bremen, Germany, today.
The delivery marks an important step in the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.
Comprising two missions that will be launched to Mars in 2016 and 2018, respectively, ExoMars will address the outstanding scientific question of whether life has ever existed on Mars by drilling the surface of the planet and analysing in situ the samples. The ExoMars programme will also demonstrate key technologies for entry, descent, landing, drilling and roving on the martian surface.
The Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, will be launched in 2016 along with Schiaparelli – the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.
TGO will search for evidence of methane and other atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes on Mars. It will also serve as a communications relay for the 2018 rover and surface science platform.
Today’s handover at OHB headquarters marks the end of an intense construction and test period readying this core module to be used as the basis for integration of other TGO subsystems and units, including the science instruments.
The ceremony was attended by ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, who met representatives of the ExoMars industrial consortium to celebrate this important milestone.
“ExoMars is a challenging project, a premiere for Europe, and, in some aspects, a premier in the world,” noted Mr Dordain.
“Thanks to the expertise of our industrial partners here in Germany we are on track to deliver this crucial element of the 2016 mission. We are already looking forward to the significant scientific discoveries that TGO will make on our quest to understand the evolution of planet Mars, a sister planet of Earth, and in particular, if life has ever existed on Mars.”
Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB said: “The timely release marks a key step in the development of the ExoMars programme. We are proud to be part of this ambitious international science and research program.”
“This was a very pleasant start to my new position as aviation and space coordinator. With the ExoMars programme, the German space industry is demonstrating its outstanding skills,” said Brigitte Zypries after the core module was handed over.
OHB System AG is a member of the European industrial syndicate that is responsible for developing the Mechanical, Thermal and Propulsion core module of the Trace Gas Orbiter for the 2016 mission with ExoMars prime contractor Thales Alenia Space.
TGO and Schiaparelli will be launched in January 2016, arriving at Mars nine months later. The second mission, with ESA’s rover and the Russian surface platform, is scheduled for launch in May 2018, arriving at the planet in early 2019. Roscosmos is the main partner of ESA on ExoMars.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 9.02.2014
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The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module consisting of the spacecraft structure, thermal control and propulsion systems was handed over by OHB System to Thales Alenia Space France at a ceremony held 3 February 2014 in Bremen, Germany.

Comprising two missions that will be launched to Mars in 2016 and 2018, respectively, ExoMars will address the outstanding scientific question of whether life has ever existed on Mars by drilling the surface of the planet and analysing in situ the samples. The ExoMars programme will also demonstrate key technologies for entry, descent, landing, drilling and roving on the martian surface.

The Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, will be launched in 2016 along with Schiaparelli – the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.

Quelle: ESA

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Update: 12.07.2014 
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Airbus Defence and Space completes production of heat shields for 2016 ExoMars mission


Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, has just completed the production of the two heat shields for the first European ExoMars mission in 2016. These shields will protect the Schiaparelli capsule when it descends through the Martian atmosphere. They will be delivered shortly to Thales Alenia Space (TAS), the prime contractor on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Schiaparelli shields were developed by the Space Systems teams at Airbus Defence and Space, primarily at its site in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, near Bordeaux (France). Airbus Defence and Space, as one of the main contributors to the rover of the 2018 ExoMars mission, is responsible for the development of the rover vehicle, in parallel to its work for the 2016 mission. The ExoMars rover will be able to navigate autonomously on the surface of Mars as it searches for the existence of past or present life.
“The Airbus Defence and Space teams have built up unrivalled expertise in the field of planetary exploration, including for example the shield for the Huygens space probe which successfully touched down on Titan in 2005,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “From complex initial studies to proven technology for atmospheric re-entry for the Earth and other planets, we are now working on the next generation of thermal protection materials and systems, which could be used to bring back samples from planets or the space station.”
The Schiaparelli’s front shield, which has a diameter of 2.4 metres and weighs 80 kilogrammes, is made up of a carbon sandwich structure covered with 90 Norcoat Liege insulating tiles. During the atmospheric entry phase, the material is built to withstand temperatures of up to 1,850°C before being jettisoned. The rear shield, which contains the parachute, deployed during the descent, weighs a mere 20 kilogrammes and is composed of 93 tiles of 12 different types, affixed to the carbon structure. The probe’s equipment is integrated into the front shield, then covered with the rear shield before final assembly in Baikonur in preparation for launch.
Schiaparelli, also known as the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), will not only demonstrate Europe’s ability to perform a controlled landing on the surface of Mars, but also carries scientific instruments to improve our knowledge of the Red Planet. In this type of mission, the atmospheric entry phase is crucial, and the front and rear heat shields will be key elements in the demonstration.
The first ExoMars mission is scheduled to begin in January 2016 on a Proton rocket. It will comprise a satellite, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) that will go into orbit around Mars, and a capsule, Schiaparelli, that will enter the atmosphere of Mars before touching down on the Red Planet.
Quelle: Airbus
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Update: 2.10.2014
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FOUR CANDIDATE LANDING SITES FOR EXOMARS 2018

Rover landing site candidates
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Four possible landing sites are being considered for the ExoMars mission in 2018. Its rover will search for evidence of martian life, past or present.
ExoMars is a joint two-mission endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. The Trace Gas Orbiter and an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, will be launched in January 2016, arriving at Mars nine months later. The Rover and Surface Platform will depart in May 2018, with touchdown on Mars in January 2019.
The search for a suitable landing site for the second mission began in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidates.
The eight proposals were considered during a workshop held by the Landing Site Selection Working Group in April. By the end of the workshop, there were four clear front-runners.
Following additional review by an ESA-appointed panel, the four sites have now been formally recommended for further detailed analysis.
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Mawrth Vallis is one of four candidate landing sites under consideration for the ExoMars 2018 mission. It is one of the oldest outflow channels on Mars, at least 3.8 billion years old. It hosts large exposures of finely layered clay-rich rocks, indicating that water once played a role here.
The image combines HRSC images from ESA Mars Express with MOLA topography data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor. The landing ellipses under evaluation for this site selection are indicated, and cover an area of 170 x 19 km. The orientation of the landing ellipse depends on when the launch takes place within a given launch window – the sites have to be compliant with launch opportunities in both 2018 and 2020, as indicated.
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The sites – Mawrth Vallis, Oxia Planum, Hypanis Vallis and Aram Dorsum – are all located relatively close to the equator.
“The present-day surface of Mars is a hostile place for living organisms, but primitive life may have gained a foothold when the climate was warmer and wetter, between 3.5 billion and 4 billion years ago,” says Jorge Vago, ESA’s ExoMars project scientist.
“Therefore, our landing site should be in an area with ancient rocks where liquid water was once abundant. Our initial assessment clearly identified four landing sites that are best suited to the mission’s scientific goals.”
The area around Mawrth Vallis and nearby Oxia Planum contains one of the largest exposures of rocks on Mars that are older than 3.8 billion years and clay-rich, indicating that water once played a role here. Mawrth Vallis lies on the boundary between the highlands and lowlands and is one of the oldest outflow channels on Mars.
The exposed rocks at both Mawrth Vallis and Oxia Planum have varied compositions, indicating a variety of deposition and wetting environments. In addition, the material of interest has been exposed by erosion only within the last few hundred million years, meaning the rocks are still well preserved against damage from the planet’s harsh radiation and oxidation environment.
By contrast, Hypanis Vallis lies on an exhumed fluvial fan, thought to be the remnant of an ancient river delta at the end of a major valley network. Distinct layers of fine-grained sedimentary rocks provide access to material deposited about 3.45 billion years ago.
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Oxia Planum is one of four candidate landing sites under consideration for the ExoMars 2018 mission. It contains one of the largest exposures of ancient – approximately 3.8 billion years old – clay-rich rocks on the planet. The finely layered formations record a variety of deposition and wetting environments believed to be similar to that of Mawrth Vallis.
The image combines HRSC images from ESA Mars Express with MOLA topography data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor. The landing ellipses under evaluation for site selection are indicated, and cover an area of 104 x 19 km. The orientation of the landing ellipse depends on when the launch takes place within a given launch window – the sites have to be compliant with launch opportunities in both 2018 and 2020, as indicated.
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Quelle: ESA
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Update: 8.01.2014
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ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
To explore requires a strong backbone – and that goes double for space exploration.
The 1.194 m-diameter 3.5-m high composite cylinder at the centre of this structure is the backbone of ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter core module, due for launch in 2016.
It has the task of transmitting the forces and stresses of launch throughout the rest of the spacecraft. It also houses the propellant and oxidiser tanks for the Orbiter thrusters – attachment points for the tanks are visible as lines of gold-coloured circles around the central tube.
The spacecraft is seen here during integration of its electrical subsystems in the cavernous Thales Alenia Space cleanroom in Cannes, France, last November.
The cylinder extends to the top of the core module, where the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module will be held during the flight to Mars, before separating for landing.
The Orbiter itself will remain in Mars orbit to image surface features and study the composition of the atmosphere, including sniffing out trace gases such as methane, recently detected on the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover.
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Launch Period 7-27 January 2016
EDM – Orbiter separation 16 October 2016
Orbiter insertion into Mars orbit 19 October 2016
EDM enters Martian atmosphere and lands on the target site 19 October 2016
EDM science operations 19 October - 23 October 2016
(to be confirmed)
Orbiter changes inclination to science orbit (74°) 25 October 2016
Apocentre reduction manoeuvres (from the initial 4-sol orbit to a 1-sol orbit) 27 October 2016
Aerobraking phase (Orbiter lowers its altitude) 4 November 2016 - mid 2017
Start operating the Orbiter scientific instruments mid 2017
Superior conjunction (This is when the Sun is between Earth and Mars; Critical operations are paused.) 11 July - 11 August 2017
Start of the data relay operations to support communications for the rover mission 17 January 2019
End of mission December 2022
Quelle: ESA
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Vince Cable (UK Secretary of State for Business) and David Parker (Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency) inspect a model rover at the Mars Yard in Stevenage, UK.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 19.09.2015
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ExoMars 2016 targets Mars launch window
A problem recently discovered in two sensors in the propulsion system of the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module has prompted the recommendation to move the launch of the ExoMars 2016 mission, initially foreseen in January, to March, still within the launch window of early 2016.
ExoMars is a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. The recommendation was made in full coordination between the two agencies and will be finally endorsed by a joint steering board on 24 September.
The Schiaparelli module will prove key technologies to demonstrate Europe’s capability to make a controlled landing on Mars.
The 600 kg Schiaparelli will ride to Mars on the Trace Gas Orbiter, which will subsequently enter orbit around the Red Planet to begin its five-year mission of studying atmospheric gases potentially linked to present-day biological or geological activity.
Schiaparelli will separate from the orbiter three days before they reach Mars, entering the atmosphere at 21 000 km/h. Following aerobraking in the upper atmosphere and a parachute phase, a liquid-propellant thruster system will brake the module to less than 5 km/h at a height of about 2 m above the surface.
At that moment, the thrusters will be switched off and the lander will drop to the ground, where the impact will be cushioned by a crushable structure built into the module.
Less than eight minutes will elapse between the moment when Schiaparelli enters the atmosphere to its landing on Mars in a region known as Meridiani Planum.
However, a defect was recently found in two pressure transducers mounted in the propulsion system.
“A failure in the production process of the pressure transducers has been identified and this leads to concerns about leakage, which represents a major risk to a successful landing on Mars,” says Don McCoy, ESA ExoMars Project Manager.
“ESA has decided not to accept this risk and to remove both units from the landing module, the knock-on effect being that we can no longer maintain the January 2016 launch window and will instead move to the back-up launch window in March.
“We are pleased to have identified the issue in good time, and are focusing all our efforts to launch on 14 March.”
The sensors are not part of the control loop necessary for landing, but would rather have gathered ancillary data for monitoring the system. In order to meet the new launch window, the decision was made to remove the parts, rather than replace them.
The later window is open 14–25 March and, thanks to the relative orbital positions of Earth and Mars, the mission will still arrive at Mars in October, just as if launched in January.
A set of scientific sensors on Schiaparelli will collect data on the atmosphere during the entry and descent, and its instruments will perform local environment measurements at the landing site.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 26.09.2015
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ExoMars-1 Mission Launch Officially Delayed Until March 2016
Roscosmos announced that the launch of a space orbiter to Mars under a joint Russia-EU research program had been postponed until March 2016.
MOSCOW — The launch of a space orbiter to Mars under a joint Russia-EU research program has been postponed until March 2016, the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, said on Friday.
The launch of the ExoMars-1 mission was originally scheduled for January 7, 2016. Last week, Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) proposed postponing the launch of until March 2016, citing technical reasons that required additional inspections of the mission equipment.
"Today, on September 25, 2015, a meeting of the Governing Council of the ExoMars mission was held in the Dutch city of Noordwijk. The Council members, Roscosmos and ESA experts have decided to postpone the start of the mission from January to March next year due to the need to replace equipment on ESA — Schiaparelli demonstration descent," the Roscosmos' press service said.
According to the statement, the mission will be launched between March 14 and 26.
Overall, Roscosmos and ESA have agreed to launch two ExoMars missions, scheduled for 2016 and 2018 respectively.
In 2016, it is planned to launch the orbiter, the main goal of which is to study the atmosphere of Mars and to conduct data exchange with a rover. The rover itself is scheduled to be sent to the planet in 2018.
Quelle: Sputnik
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Update: 22.10.2015
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Landing site recommended for ExoMars 2018
Oxia Planum has been recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission.
ExoMars 2018, comprising a rover and surface platform, is the second of two missions making up the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos. Launch is planned for May 2018, with touchdown on the Red Planet in January 2019.
Meanwhile, the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module will be launched in March 2016, arriving at Mars around this time next year.
Schiaparelli will land in Meridiani Planum. The orbiter will study the atmosphere and act as a relay for the second mission.
The search for a suitable landing site for the second mission began in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidates. In October 2014, the Landing Site Selection Working Group chose four sites. The last year has been spent evaluating these sites, taking into account the engineering constraints of descent and landing, and the best possible scientific return of the mission
The main goal for the rover is to search for evidence of martian life, past or present, in an area with ancient rocks where liquid water was once abundant. A drill is capable of extracting samples from up to 2 m below the surface. This is crucial, because the present surface of Mars is a hostile place for living organisms owing to the harsh solar and cosmic radiation. By searching underground, the rover has more chance of finding preserved evidence.
Scientists believe that primitive life could have gained a foothold when the surface environment was wetter, more than 3.6 billion years ago. Buried or recently exhumed layered sedimentary deposits thus offer the best window into this important period of Mars history.
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Screenshot from the Where On Mars? visualisation tool depicting the location of four candidate landing sites (red markers) for ExoMars 2018. Visit the site to explore the landing regions in more detail.
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All four sites under study – Aram Dorsum, Hypanis Vallis, Mawrth Vallis and Oxia Planum – show evidence of having been influenced by water in the past, and are likely representative of global processes operating in the Red Planet’s early history.
All locations offer the opportunity of landing at a scientifically interesting site or finding one within a 1 km drive from the touchdown point, with numerous targets accessible along a typical 2 km traverse planned for the mission of 218 martian days (each 24 hours 37 minutes).
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 25.11.2015
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ExoMars prepares to leave Europe for launch site
The two ExoMars spacecraft of the 2016 mission are being prepared for shipping to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ahead of their launch in March.
A joint endeavour with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, ExoMars comprises two missions. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli make up the 2016 mission, while the 2018 mission will combine a rover and a surface science platform. Both missions will be launched on Russian Proton rockets from Baikonur.
TGO and Schiaparelli are undergoing final preparations at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, where they were today on display for media to view for the last time before they leave Europe.
They will be shipped separately in the middle of next month, arriving at the cosmodrome on 21 and 23 December, respectively.
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Schiaparelli, also known as the ExoMars Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module is seen here being installed at the top of the Trace Gas Orbiter, at Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, on 25 November 2015.
The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM). The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA's contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.
The Orbiter itself will remain in Mars orbit to image surface features and study the composition of the atmosphere.
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“It’s been a long road for ExoMars to reach this point, but we are now ready to launch in spring next year,” says Alvaro Gimenez, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
“We are about to begin a new era of Mars exploration for Europe and our Russian partners.”
Sergey Saveliev, Deputy General Director of Roscosmos, says: “ExoMars is a unique example of the Russian–European cooperation in deep-space exploration.
“The mission of 2016 is just the first stage of our cooperation and, in the future, Roscosmos and ESA plan many joint projects to explore near and deep space.”
Donato Amoroso, deputy CEO of Thales Alenia Space, notes, “For Thales Alenia Space, our lead role in the extraordinary ExoMars programme, as producer of the orbiter and the entry, descent and landing module for in situ exploration of Mars, entails huge technological and human challenges.”
The first ExoMars is scheduled for launch on 14 March, at the start of a launch window that remains open until 25 March.
After a cruise of almost seven months to Mars, Schiaparelli will separate from TGO on 16 October for its entry, descent and landing in the Meridani Planum region on 19 October.
TGO, along with ESA’s Mars Express and NASA satellites already orbiting Mars, will relay data for the few days that Schiaparelli is expected to operate on its batteries.
Schiaparelli is primarily a demonstrator to prove a range of technologies enabling controlled landings on Mars in future, but it also carries a small science package to analyse its local environment once on the surface.
Meanwhile, after a series of aerobraking manoeuvres in 2017, TGO will enter orbit around Mars, from where it will take a detailed inventory of the gases in the planet’s atmosphere.
Of special interest are the abundance and distribution of methane: its presence implies an active, current source, and TGO will help to determine whether it stems from a geological or biological source.
“TGO will analyse ‘trace gases’ in the atmosphere,” says Håkan Svedhem, ESA’s project scientist. “Even though they make up less than one percent of the atmospheric inventory, they should provide key indicators to the nature of any active processes, helping us to determine just how ‘alive’ Mars may be today.
“TGO will also monitor seasonal changes in the composition and temperature of the atmosphere, and will map the subsurface to look for hidden water ice.”
Finally, TGO will also relay data from the rover and surface science platform of the 2018 mission.
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Artist’s impression of the ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli – the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, with TGO’s instrument packages labelled.
ACS: Atmospheric Chemistry Suite 
ACS is a suite of three infrared spectrometers to investigate the chemistry, aerosols and structure of the atmosphere. ACS will complement NOMAD by extending the coverage at infrared wavelengths.
CaSSIS: Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System 
This high-resolution camera (5 m per pixel) will obtain colour and stereo images of the surface covering a wide swath. It will provide the geological and dynamic context for sources of trace gases detected by NOMAD and ACS.
FREND: Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector 
This neutron detector will map hydrogen on the surface down to a metre deep, revealing deposits of water-ice near the surface. FREND’s mapping of shallow subsurface water-ice will be up to 10 times better than existing measurements.
NOMAD: Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery 
NOMAD combines three spectrometers, two infrared and one ultraviolet, to perform high-sensitivity orbital identification of atmospheric components, including methane and many other species, via both solar occultation and direct reflected-light nadir observations.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 20.12.2015
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ExoMars loaded onto Antonov for shipment to launch site in Baikonur
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 21.12.2015
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Gute Nachrichten! ESA´s Exomars ist gut in Baikonur angekommen:
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 5.01.2016
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THE EXOMARS 2016 SCHIAPARELLI MODULE IN BAIKONUR

Title The ExoMars 2016 Schiaparelli module in Baikonur
Released 05/01/2016 12:52 pm
Copyright TsENKI
Description
On 14 March, the launch window opens for ExoMars 2016, ESA’s next mission to Mars, composed of the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli.
Last month, the two spacecraft left Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, where they had been for the final few months of assembly and testing, and headed towards the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
With both now in Baikonur, preparations are under way for the launch on a Russian Proton rocket during a window that remains open until 25 March.
The 600 kg Schiaparelli – pictured here being unpacked in a cleanroom in the cosmodrome – will ride to Mars on the Trace Gas Orbiter. Three days before they reach the Red Planet, Schiaparelli will separate from the orbiter, which will then enter orbit for a five-year mission of studying atmospheric gases potentially linked to present-day biological or geological activity.
Schiaparelli will enter the atmosphere at 21 000 km/h and slow by aerobraking in the upper layers, then deploying a parachute, followed by liquid-propellant thrusters that will brake it to less than 5 km/h about 2 m above the surface.
At that moment, the thrusters will be switched off and it will drop to the ground, where the impact will be cushioned by its crushable structure.
Less than eight minutes will have elapsed between hitting the atmosphere and touching down in a region known as Meridiani Planum.
Scientific sensors on Schiaparelli will collect data on the atmosphere during entry and descent, and others will make local measurements  at the landing site for a short period determined by its battery capacity.
Schiaparelli will remain a target for laser ranging from orbiters using its reflector.
The module is named in honour of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, who mapped the Red Planet’s surface features in the 19th century.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 21.02.2016
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Giant nose in the sky’ ready for lift-off in mission to sniff out traces of life on Mars
The ExoMars probe will seek evidence of methane gas, which is seen as a crucial signpost of life
In a few days, space engineers will launch a probe that is designed to sniff out life on Mars.
The ExoMars robot spacecraft – which will blast off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 14 March – will use a highly sensitive detector to determine whether methane, which is produced by living beings on Earth, exists in significant levels high in the atmosphere or near the surface of Mars.
The mission is designed to pinpoint hotspots that have high methane levels and that may provide the best prospects of finding life in the area. These would be targeted for future Mars missions.
“Essentially our spacecraft is a giant nose in the sky,” said Jorge Vago, the ExoMars project scientist. “And we are going to use it to sniff out the presence of methane on Mars and determine if it is being produced by biological processes.”
Most of the methane in Earth’s atmosphere is produced by micro-organisms, including many species that thrive in the guts of animals including cattle and termites. The gas’s presence in the atmosphere of Mars would provide strong support for the idea that life forms of some kind exist – or existed in the past.
To create a methane map of Mars, European Space Agency scientists have collaborated with Russian counterparts and designed ExoMars, a double mission whose first part will be launched in a few days and will put a probe, called the Trace Gas Orbiter, into orbit around the red planet. This will test for Martian methane. The probe will also test a package of landing equipment that could be used in the second part of the mission, a robot rover to be launched in 2018.
The Trace Gas Orbiter uses a suite of highly sensitive spectrometers, which can pinpoint the presence of the gas at extremely low levels. “Whiffs of methane have been detected by previous missions to Mars,” said Vago. “However, our detectors should be able to detect it at levels of only a few parts per trillion.”
The orbiter will use two approaches in its methane search. The first will involve viewing the planet at dawn and dusk, when the Sun will shine straight into the probe’s detectors. “This will give us detailed information about amounts of methane at different heights above the Martian surface,” said the Open University’s Manish Patel, who has designed some of the orbiter’s gas detectors. “The second part of our search will involve peering straight down on to the surface. In that way we will be able to map the planet’s methane hotspots.”
The orbiter’s spectrometers will be able to detect chemicals other than methane, however. They will also pinpoint other gases that will be vital in proving whether Martian methane has been produced by living entities or is merely the by-product of geological processes. “Some of the methane in our own atmosphere has come from geological processes, so we have to eliminate those as possible sources of the methane that we find on Mars,” said Patel. “That is a crucial part of our research.”
This point is emphasised by Vago. “If methane is found in the presence of other complex hydrocarbon gases, such as propane or ethane, that will be a strong indication that biological processes are involved. However, if we find methane in the presence of gases such as sulphur dioxide, a chemical strongly associated with volcanic activity on Earth, that will be a pretty sure sign that we are dealing with methane that has come from the ground and is a by-product of geological processes.”
The mission will also release a small landing craft called Schiaparelli, named after the Italian astronomer who, in the late 19th century, drew some of the first maps of Mars. The lander will beam back precise information about its behaviour as it descends through the atmosphere.
“Mars is one of the most difficult worlds in the solar system to land on and Europe has very little experience in settling probes safely on its surface,” said Stephen Lewis of the Open University, who has also been involved in the design of the spacecraft. “The information from Schiaparelli could be crucial in telling us what to expect when it comes to landing the second part of the mission – the robot rover – on the planet in two years.”
Quelle: theguardian

Tags: Launch 2016 Exomars ESA EXOMARS Orbiter 

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