In the frame of PEGASUS programme within EC H2020, a consortium composed by Thales France, [+]
- Client: ESA & Roscosmos
- Country: International
- Start date: 2008
- Ending date: 2020
The exobiology space mission ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars), the objective of which is to search for life on Mars, is made up of two phases: ExoMars 2016 and ExoMars 2020. The first phase consists of a TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) probe plus an entry, descent and landing demonstration module (EDM), and was launched in 2016, while the second phase, due to launch in 2020, includes a Rover for exploring the Martian surface. It is a joint project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, the Russian agency.
ExoMars is intended to search for signs of life on Mars in the past and in the present, to investigate how water and the Martian geochemical environment are changing over the course of time, to study the composition of the atmospheric gases in the form of trace gases and their sources of origin, as well as to test the technology that could make it possible to conduct a future sample return mission from the red planet.
Schiaparelli descent module (EDM)
SENER is in charge of the Surface Platform Structures and Separation Mechanism (SPSSM) and the Front Shield Separation Mechanism (FSSM). The FSSM is responsible for supporting the front shield for the duration of the voyage to Mars and for ejecting it during the module’s descent through the Martian atmosphere following deployment of the parachute.
The SPSSM, meanwhile, includes the mechanisms that support and eject the back shell during the final part of the parachute descent; the module’s main structure, which holds the avionics and scientific equipment for the whole mission; and a crushable structure that deforms to absorb the final impact of the landing on Mars.
SENER has also designed and built the Special Check-Out Equipment (SCOE) for the Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) subsystem on Schiaparelli.
SENER also has presence in the scientific payload, as it is in charge of the quality assurance activities for the software of the NOMAD instrument for the study of Mars’ atmospheric components.
SENER has developed three drill mechanisms, which are part of the system used by the Rover to obtain samples of Martian soil. This mechanism is designed to obtain samples of the Martian subsoil from a depth of two metres for the first time, which will be placed onto the Rover of the ExoMars 2020 mission. The mechanisms developed by SENER include:
- The Extension Rods, which allow the surface platform to drill down to the desired depth on the surface of Mars, while maintaining the platform's compact size.
- The Drill Translation Group, which drives the drilling rig during the sample-taking process.
- The Positioner Translation Group, which allows the drill to be placed in its operational position and then to be moved in order to transfer the samples to the analysis equipment.
Umbilical Release Mechanism (URM)
The Umbilical Release Mechanism (URM) provides the mechanical and electric connection between the Rover and the landing platform during the launch, cruise, entry, descent and landing phases of the mission. There are two URMs connected to the Rover (one main and another redundant). Both of them are designed by SENER and each one includes two umbilical release connectors (J01 and J02). They are geometrically symmetrical and functionally identical.
Solar panel attachment and deployment mechanism
SENER has developed the attachment and deployment mechanisms for the solar panels of the Rover that will tour the Martian surface.
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