Frida Space

ExoMars 2016: on its way to Mars!

265 posts in this topic

With the launch of the first mission approaching, I thought it was time to start a new thread where to post updates on the ExoMars campaing.

So, if you haven't heard of ExoMars before, here is some basic info:

What? ExoMars is an European-Russian mission to explore Mars, with minor US partecipation. NASA used to be the second biggest ExoMars partner after ESA, but had to almost completely withdraw due to financial reasons, with Roscosmos replacing it.

Who and When?

ExoMars consists of two mission, for a total of four probes.

  • ExoMars 2016 will feature two European probes: the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli EDL (Entry, Decent, Landing) demonstator module. The two probes will launch together on top of a Russian Proton rocket during the March 14-25, 2016 launch window, beginning a 7-month cruise to the Red Planet. Three days prior to arrival, on October 16, the two probes will separate from each other. Schiaparelli will then coast towards its destination, enter the Martian atmosphere at 21 000 km/h, decelerate using aerobraking and a parachute, and then brake with the aid of a thruster system before landing in Meridiani Planum on October 19, 2016. In the meanwhile, TGO will be inserted into an elliptical orbit and, after a series of inclination and altitude changes (December 2016) and aerobraking manoeuvres (starting from December 2017), it will finally settle into a circular, 400-km altitude orbit in December 2017.
  • ExoMars 2018 2020 will feature an European and a Russian probe: the ExoMars 2020 rover and the ExoMars 2020 surface platform, respectively. The two probes will launch atop the same Russian Proton rocket in May 2018 July 2020 and will land together in Oxia Planum in 2019 2021. The rover will use the surface platform as landing base, then, after being released on the surface, the two will start independent missions. The surface platform will operate for at least one Earth year.

Where? All four probes will launch from the Baikonour cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Schiaparelli (ExoMars 2016) will land in Meridiani Planum, while the two probes of ExoMars 2018 2020 will touch down in Oxia Planum.

Why(aka Mission Objectives)

  • Schiaparelli's goal is simply to test EDL technologies; therefore, there is no need for solar panels or RTGs, and the module will run out of power a few days after landing. Despite its short expected operation lifetime, the module does carry a few basic scientific instruments.
  • The Trace Gas Orbiter will perform detailed, remote observations of the Martian atmosphere, searching for evidence of gases of possible biological importance, such as methane and its degradation products. The scientific mission will run for five years, during which TGO will also be used to relay data from ground rovers.
  • The ExoMars 2018 rover will travel several kilometers and dig to up to two metres of depth. It will be able of identifying biosignatures and organic substances.
  • The ExoMars 2018 surface platform will use a suite of Russian and European instruments. So far, only two European instruments have been selected as part of the scientific payload: one, LaRa, will study the internal structure of Mars and look for variations in the planet's angular momentum due to redistribution of masses; the other, HABIT, will investigate the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, daily and seasonal variations in ground and air temperatures, and the UV radiation environment.

Current status (will be updated as soon as new info is published)

ExoMars 2016:

  • Launched!!! The two probes were successfully launched on top of a Russian Proton rocket with a Briz-M upper stage. After a dramatic and exhausting 12-hour-long ascent, the probes are finally on their way to Mars.

ExoMars 2018 2020:

  • Oxia Planum has been recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission. Source
  • The European payload for the Russian science platform has been selected. Source
  • The 2018 mission has been postponed to 2020.

And now some pretty photos...

ExoMars_TGO_and_EDM_vibration_testing_20

The Trace Gas Orbiter (on top you can see the Schiaparelli lander)

ExoMars2016_EDM_installation_on_top_of_T

The Schiaparelli EDL demonstrator.

Rover_egress_test_node_full_image_2.jpg

An egress test with a half-scale prototype of the ExoMars 2018 rover.

Edited by Frida Space
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I'm kinda bummed about Schiaparelli probe. It seems pointless to haul a piece of equipment, drop it into the atmosphere, then let it die after couple of hours. It's not like Mars is so saturated with science equipment, that another full-fledged probe sitting on the surface would be excessive. Eh, it's all about money i suspect. Also, Russians have a bit of a bad track record with Mars exploration - hopefully this time everything will go as planned :)

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9 hours ago, Scotius said:

I'm kinda bummed about Schiaparelli probe. It seems pointless to haul a piece of equipment, drop it into the atmosphere, then let it die after couple of hours. It's not like Mars is so saturated with science equipment, that another full-fledged probe sitting on the surface would be excessive. Eh, it's all about money i suspect. Also, Russians have a bit of a bad track record with Mars exploration - hopefully this time everything will go as planned :)

I kinda agree, in the sense that yes, it doesn't make much sense to get something all the way to the Martian surface and then let it die in a few days. However, it does follow ESA's past decisions (I'm thinking of IXV, for instance) of real life technology testing and demonstrators. And, to a certain extent at least, I do like this approach.

Edited by Frida Space

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22 hours ago, Scotius said:

I'm kinda bummed about Schiaparelli probe. It seems pointless to haul a piece of equipment, drop it into the atmosphere, then let it die after couple of hours. It's not like Mars is so saturated with science equipment, that another full-fledged probe sitting on the surface would be excessive. Eh, it's all about money i suspect. Also, Russians have a bit of a bad track record with Mars exploration - hopefully this time everything will go as planned :)

Yes, but when the whole point is to ask the question "does this landing technique work?", if the answer is no, you've not got a lot of people crying about lost equipment.

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But if it works, you have intact piece of dead probe decaying uselessly in the middle of unexplored Martian area. Would couple of solar panels extending the lifespan of science package even by couple of months really cost so much? Even most basic data about temperature, CO2 content etc. would be very valuable to scientific community.

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I'm getting bad vibrations from this. Partnering with the Russians on a Mars probe is like going to a stag party with this guy.

14.jpg

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1 hour ago, Nibb31 said:

I'm getting bad vibrations from this. Partnering with the Russians on a Mars probe is like going to a stag party with this guy.

After NASA bailed out, partnering with the Russians was Europe's only choice, really (except cancelling ExoMars). The only thing I'm worried about are the Proton launches themselves... In the last five years, the Proton success record is of 87%, and there is at least one failure per year. What worries me the most are the very stupid reasons behind most of these failure (I recall one failure in which the engineers had loaded too much fuel on the upper stage because they were using old figures, and another one in which the rocket crashed shortly after liftoff because some angular velocity sensors had been installed upside down). But let's hope for the best! If ExoMars succeeds it could be one of the greatest missions of all time, IMHO.

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53 minutes ago, Frida Space said:

After NASA bailed out, partnering with the Russians was Europe's only choice, really (except cancelling ExoMars). The only thing I'm worried about are the Proton launches themselves... In the last five years, the Proton success record is of 87%, and there is at least one failure per year. What worries me the most are the very stupid reasons behind most of these failure (I recall one failure in which the engineers had loaded too much fuel on the upper stage because they were using old figures, and another one in which the rocket crashed shortly after liftoff because some angular velocity sensors had been installed upside down). But let's hope for the best! If ExoMars succeeds it could be one of the greatest missions of all time, IMHO.

The engineers must have been Kerbals.:D

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The Antonov with first ExoMars probe (not sure wether TGO or Schiaparelli) has landed in Moscow. The other probe is still waiting in Turin.

CWoR6pJXAAAcsWN.jpg

Edited by Frida Space

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Can we stop with the memes, the handhelds dont work well at all with lots of images on them adding useless images like this is nothing but selfish. 

Edited by PB666
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What exactly is Roscomos adding to the whole mission except for the rocket?

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3 hours ago, Albert VDS said:

What exactly is Roscomos adding to the whole mission except for the rocket?

As you said, two Proton rockets, plus half of the 2018 mission (a science platform, that is) and multiple contributions here and there to the European probes. But I might be forgetting something.

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Wouldn't the journey to Mars be quicker if we delay all of those operations and work together on the journey itself? But nevertheless they're pretty dope. There's also a rover (lander, sorry) planned in 2016 (delayed, sorry again) that'll be launched by NASA with collaboration of many other countries and space agencies (Insight). I even sent my name on it ;p (not really, rather my name is in a chip stored in the rover lander, so, my binary name is there. yay!)

EDIT: By collaboration I mean the rover (lander) itself. I'm not sure who's rocket will launch it.

Edited by Martian Music

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ExoMars has landed!... in Baikonur. Which is still good news, I guess.

The two probes (the Schiaparelli EDL demonstrator and the Trace Gas Orbiter, TGO) left the Thales Alenia Space facility in Cannes, France, in the evening of December 17th, and arrived in the early hours of the following day at the Turin facility, in northwest Italy.

CWck-eDXIAETsvN.jpg:large

The first of the three Antonov flights carrying hardware and support crew took off from Turin on December 18th, and arrived at Baikonur later that night.

Antonov_at_Caselle.jpeg

The second Antonov, carrying Schiaparelli, departed Turin on December 20th, arriving at Baikonur in the early hours of the next day.

AH_TGO_flight_loading_1.jpeg

The third Antonov, carrying TGO, ground support equipment and support crew left Turin on December 22nd and arrived in Baikonur in the early hours of the next day.

CWxllhzWcAE8rTx.jpg:large

As of writing, both spacecraft have been unloaded and have reached their cleanrooms. TGO was also powered on for the first time in Baikonur; everything looks OK.

CXUWkw6VAAg0fC5.jpg

CXUWkw5UoAAXqKl.jpg

Edited by Frida Space

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On 02.12.2015 at 1:05 AM, Nibb31 said:

I'm getting bad vibrations from this. Partnering with the Russians on a Mars probe is like going to a stag party with this guy.

14.jpg

So you seriously think that Roskosmos has not complied with its obligations to customers ??

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1 hour ago, DECQ said:

So you seriously think that Roskosmos has not complied with its obligations to customers ??

I'm not sure if you're referring to ExoMars or previous missions, but in the case of ExoMars, it's not a customer-client thing, it's a full cooperation. In fact, ESA is not paying for the Proton rockets, Russia is -- consider it a form of "entry fee". If Russia wants to partecipate, then it must provide (without any costs for ESA) the two launches. In exchange, they get to put some instruments on the European probes and get full access and co-property of all the data. It's a cooperation, so if the Proton launches or anything else goes wrong, then it's both parties' fault, if you want to see it that way :)

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7 minutes ago, Frida Space said:

I'm not sure if you're referring to ExoMars or previous missions, but in the case of ExoMars, it's not a customer-client thing, it's a full cooperation. In fact, ESA is not paying for the Proton rockets, Russia is -- consider it a form of "entry fee". If Russia wants to partecipate, then it must provide (without any costs for ESA) the two launches. In exchange, they get to put some instruments on the European probes and get full access and co-property of all the data. It's a cooperation, so if the Proton launches or anything else goes wrong, then it's both parties' fault, if you want to see it that way :)

No, I do not mean ExoMars, a message was as if Roscosmos at one point may declare a unilateral breach of contract or failure to launch foreign satellites.Or as if it really happened, too strange opinion was expressed by the author. 

""I'm getting bad vibrations from this. Partnering with the Russians on a Mars probe is like going to a stag party with this guy.""

What is the meaning of this message?    :-\

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41 minutes ago, DECQ said:

So you seriously think that Roskosmos has not complied with its obligations to customers ??

It's not about obligations to customers. It's just that Russia doesn't exactly have a great track record with Mars missions. They have attempted 18 missions to Mars, from 1960 to 2011, all of which were total or partial failures. 

In that light, it doesn't inspire great confidence.

 

Edited by Nibb31

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I guess @Nibb31 also refers to the fact that in recent years the Proton rocket's success rate has fallen to 90% -- which is quite low as standards nowdays go. Especially considering the statistic that in the last 5 or something years there has been at least a failure per year, and for very stupid reasons too. I think some of the European guys at the ExoMars project think the same, I read a scientist tweet "I feel a bit more relaxed now about our launch" after a successful Proton launch, which sounds as if he would have chosen another rocket, if possible (which obviously isn't)... I think and hope everything will be fine, but I'll be watching the ExoMars launch with slightly more tension than other very important launches.

But seeing as Italy is the biggest contributor to ExoMars, I really, really, really want to see this go well! It will be so exciting to know that a bunch of people a few miles away from my house are controlling something on the surface of Mars... we Europeans haven't been able to have that feeling so far :(

Edited by Frida Space

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37 minutes ago, Frida Space said:

I guess @Nibb31 also refers to the fact that in recent years the Proton rocket's success rate has fallen to 90% -- which is quite low as standards nowdays go. Especially considering the statistic that in the last 5 or something years there has been at least a failure per year, and for very stupid reasons too. I think some of the European guys at the ExoMars project think the same, I read a scientist tweet "I feel a bit more relaxed now about our launch" after a successful Proton launch, which sounds as if he would have chosen another rocket, if possible (which obviously isn't)... I think and hope everything will be fine, but I'll be watching the ExoMars launch with slightly more tension than other very important launches.

But seeing as Italy is the biggest contributor to ExoMars, I really, really, really want to see this go well! It will be so exciting to know that a bunch of people a few miles away from my house are controlling something on the surface of Mars... we Europeans haven't been able to have that feeling so far :(

Since ESA is providing most of the science equippment and payload, couldn't they decide to do without Roscosmos and launch ExoMars on Ariane 5 ? Why did they choose Roscosmos and Proton in the first place ? 

 

I would be very worried if the payload i had been working on for years was launched on Proton... It's simply outdated

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1 hour ago, Hcube said:

Since ESA is providing most of the science equippment and payload, couldn't they decide to do without Roscosmos and launch ExoMars on Ariane 5 ? Why did they choose Roscosmos and Proton in the first place? 

I presume there are budget constraints... as with most major space missions, ExoMars has gone way over the original budget cap already. Originally the plan was to launch ExoMars on top of a Soyuz. Then NASA was asked to join, the mission was heavily expanded and an Atlas V was chosen to replace the Soyuz. Then the James Webb Space Telescope killed NASA's partecipation in ExoMars. ESA couldn't do everything by itself so it asked Russia, at the time a minor partner, to replace NASA. A contract was signed and what were then supposed to be one Atlas launch (TGO and a lander) and one Proton launch (the MAX-C rover) became two Proton launches.

In fact, so far the project is costing so much that Esa hasn't even yet fully funded the 2018 rover. Buying two Ariane 5s would simply cost too much, I'm assuming.

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3 hours ago, Frida Space said:

I guess @Nibb31 also refers to the fact that in recent years the Proton rocket's success rate has fallen to 90% -- which is quite low as standards nowdays go. Especially considering the statistic that in the last 5 or something years there has been at least a failure per year, and for very stupid reasons too. I think some of the European guys at the ExoMars project think the same, I read a scientist tweet "I feel a bit more relaxed now about our launch" after a successful Proton launch, which sounds as if he would have chosen another rocket, if possible (which obviously isn't)... I think and hope everything will be fine, but I'll be watching the ExoMars launch with slightly more tension than other very important launches.

But seeing as Italy is the biggest contributor to ExoMars, I really, really, really want to see this go well! It will be so exciting to know that a bunch of people a few miles away from my house are controlling something on the surface of Mars... we Europeans haven't been able to have that feeling so far :(

Since ESA is providing most of the science equippment and payload, couldn't they decide to do without Roscosmos and launch ExoMars on Ariane 5 ? Why did they choose Roscosmos and Proton in the first place ? 

 

I would be very worried if the payload i had been working on for years was launched on Proton... It's simply outdated

 

Thanks for the info ! 

Yet i think that given Proton's recent performances, it's one of these times where it's worth it to make the payroll a bit longer but be ensured to have the mission running...

 

Btw i love your profile pic (are you italian or something?)

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1 hour ago, Hcube said:

Thanks for the info ! 

Yet i think that given Proton's recent performances, it's one of these times where it's worth it to make the payroll a bit longer but be ensured to have the mission running...

Btw i love your profile pic (are you italian or something?)

Thank you! I agree, I would have preferred to spend a few more bucks but get an Ariane... but the decision has been made, so the only thing we can do now is cross our fingers :)

Yes, I am Italian, although I'm currently studying in England, so I go back and forth all the time :) Italy has done a lot in space (especially in things like Cassini, which is basically half Italian), but mostly outside our own country... this time, the 2018 ExoMars Rover Operations Control Centre will be in Italy. It may not sound like much, but just knowing that a rover on Mars is being navigated from Italy makes it that much more special for me :)

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I don't have a good feeling about the mission.

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16 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

It's not about obligations to customers. It's just that Russia doesn't exactly have a great track record with Mars missions. They have attempted 18 missions to Mars, from 1960 to 2011, all of which were total or partial failures. 

In that light, it doesn't inspire great confidence.

 

We got them to launch Mars Express and that turned out fine. Launches haven't generally been the issue for the Russian missions either, at least since the early 60s.

11 hours ago, Hcube said:

Since ESA is providing most of the science equippment and payload, couldn't they decide to do without Roscosmos and launch ExoMars on Ariane 5 ? Why did they choose Roscosmos and Proton in the first place ? 

Money.

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