ExoMars - European/Russian Mars orbiter, lander and rover mission

Discussion in 'science, nature and environment' started by 2hats, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. 2hats

    2hats

    The first ExoMars launch is due this Monday (0931GMT); the launch window for Mars extends until 25 March. The payload comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO - which will analyse the atmospheric chemistry looking for signs of biological processes) and the Schiaparelli demonstration lander (scheduled to land 19 October 2016). The rover portion of the programme will follow up with a launch in May 2018.

    The primary scientific objective of the ExoMars mission is to look for past or present biosignatures. The programme will progressively test and develop technologies for: entry, descent and landing (EDL) of a payload on the surface of Mars, surface mobility with a rover, access to the subsurface to acquire samples and sample acquisition/preparation/distribution/analysis. The rover is to target areas most favourable to organic material and will drill for samples to depths of 2 metres (the drill on Curiosity can only sample down to a few centimetres, by comparison).

    Streamed launch coverage will be found here starting at 0830GMT, Monday.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
  2. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist my world is fire and blood

    roscosmos and ESA collab as well. Was reading about it yesterday. Forwards to the red planet!
     
  3. twentythreedom

    twentythreedom Olly Murs is a cock

    Fucking hell, amazing stuff :thumbs: Science :cool:
     
  4. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist my world is fire and blood

    xkcd has pointed out what threat sending the machines in first can pose

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad heckling from the back!

    Will be getting to work during the start of that coverage - and I've a lot to do on Monday.
    meh.
    But hope all goes well, even if I can't watch ...
     
  6. 2hats

    2hats

    Everything currently go. Proton rocket fuelled and ready; now on internal power. Orbiter and lander on internal power and communications with both established.
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Limejuice

    Limejuice Well-Known Member

    The ESA presenter reminds me of Katie Boyle introducing the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1960s.

    ETA: Katie Boyle with verbal diarrhoea. Talk about relentless talking and compulsive interviewing...

    :mad:
     
  8. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    Wonder how much Russia pays Kazakhstan for the use of the launch facilities?
     
  9. 2hats

    2hats

    And we are away... First stage separation. Performance nominal. Second stage hot start. Second stage separation. Third stage motor up and running. Fairing separation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  10. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    2hats do you know how long travel time to Mars is?
     
  11. 2hats

    2hats

    Cruise for this mission is about 7 months. Briz-M upper stage ignition coming up.
     
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  12. 2hats

    2hats

    About $120 million per year including 'renting' the upper stage drop zones down range.
     
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  13. 2hats

    2hats

    Briz-M ignition. Ascent nominal thus far. Should place it in a parking orbit. Now parked, I believe.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  14. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    I wonder how critical the landing site on Mars is, what I mean is how mobile will the rover be, what if it lands in a crater, will it be able to climb out?
     
  15. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

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  16. Signal 11

    Signal 11 Ich bin maroon!

    Opportunity did, and later it went into and back out of a much bigger one.

    This one's a fixed lander though. The ExoMars rover launches in another two years.
     
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  17. 2hats

    2hats

    There is no rover on this mission. That's the 2018 mission, as mentioned. But the key for that rover is to look for biosignatures and they are targeting a very specific geology for that so it's not so much about getting trapped in a crater, more about landing in or close enough to the particular soil and rock types that are of interest (ie if it were trapped on a crater floor but with the right geological material to hand it wouldn't be that much of an issue per se).

    However the rover landing site has been carefully selected - Oxia Planum (the static lander, Schiaparelli, just launched today with the Trace Gas Orbiter, will target a location closer to the equator):
    [​IMG]
    It is pretty flat for some way outside even the target landing ellipse (below, purple, other geologically interesting features also marked) - the area having been purposefully selected to ensure the landing site (plus/minus for reasonable error) meets the engineering design criteria for the rover (as well as providing ease of access to scientifically interesting locations relevant to the remit of the mission). The rover will have a six month mission (initially, anyway) and needs sufficient time to get to those areas of interest: no rocks larger than certain sizes in the way (~30cm high), no slope greater than certain values (30 degrees I believe, though it has been designed to be stable statically on slopes up to 40 degrees).
    exomars2018landing.jpg
    In fact the landing area really has to be flat anyway otherwise spurious echoes will affect radar altimeter guidance in the final landing phase. So if it is wide of the intended area, above some very irregular terrain, it's quite possible it would crash land anyway since altitude estimates and thus chute and retrorocket timings would be awry. The tenuous, fickle nature of the Martian atmosphere also means that if you don't come in on target - overshoot - you are probably going too fast (insufficient aerobraking on entry), you come in too hot and the mission gets cooked. Which is another reason for the orbiter mission launching earlier - observing the atmosphere to help improve the modelling of entry (it will also serve as a communications relay for the lander and then the rover, joining MRO, Maven and Mars Express in those roles).
     
  18. 2hats

    2hats

    Indeed, and begs the question as to how one lands astronauts on Mars and at the same time meets planetary protection standards; you can't steam a human (inside or out) in an autoclave...

    Studies for human exploration biosecurity are being conducted but it needs a lot of careful planning and prep (and will obviously add to the cost). The (present) general consensus is that we really want to conduct fairly exhaustive robotic investigations first and as part of that identify zones of minimal biological risk (no local organic carbon at or above the life detection threshold) where first human landings could take place with minimal risk possible. This obviously goes hand in hand with precautions to avoid back contamination of Earth on return (and indeed health issues for the crew themselves). Though of course, by definition, these zones are going to be the least interesting places for exploration in respect of looking for present (or past) signs of life.

    There is though an acceptance that in the end some degree of contamination (either way) is inevitable with manned exploration. Ok, they weren't exactly that careful (though they did make an effort particularly on the first missions), but one look at the Apollo spacesuits in the Smithsonian and you'll realise how quickly it gets messy (some advocate using a return to the Moon as a relatively 'consequence free' testing environment for developing better protection procedures for Mars).
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. 2hats

    2hats

    The bird takes off...
    [​IMG]

    ExoMars is currently coasting in a transfer orbit towards the fourth and final burn that will occur a little before 2000GMT tonight. It will then be on an interplanetary course for Mars and separate from the Briz-M upper stage which will fire again to separate clear of the science payload. ExoMars should then deploy solar panels and confirmation that all is well should be heard shortly before 2130GMT.

    That last upper stage burn occurs over the North Atlantic (19:47:52-20:00:21GMT) and there might be a slim chance of spotting it during that event. The payload itself probably won't be very bright, but it might be amusing to see if there is any evidence of the burn itself and/or subsequent venting. From the southern half of the UK it will appear to rise from the west around 1954GMT, way below the crescent Moon, and move low in the SW towards the south, climbing towards the southern portion of Orion by about 1958GMT before slowly arcing towards to set in the SE some ten minutes or so later. Looks clear so I might go and scan the skies...
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
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  20. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad heckling from the back!

    Pity, think I'm too far north (at 55 degrees or so ) to catch any glimpse of this ...
     
  21. 2hats

    2hats

    No you're not. It is climbing out on to an interplanetary trajectory so quite high (a few thousand km).
     
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  22. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad heckling from the back!

    Oh, I might nip out and have a look ... well, back in now.
    Maybe, possibly we saw it, but some high cloud about and traffic nearby (doing the dazzling you don't need ! ) so not 100% sure.

    Anyway, safe flight and soft landings ... in seven months
     
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  23. 2hats

    2hats

    Now confirmed as on an Earth escape trajectory to Mars. It was very faint but spotted from the Netherlands, here in a stacked image:
    exomars.jpg
    First radio contact from ExoMars itself to confirm it is (hopefully) healthy, up and running should be in about 23 minutes.
     
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  24. 2hats

    2hats

    AOS - signal acquired from the orbiter.
    [​IMG]
    e2a: telemetry indicates both solar arrays deployed and the battery is charging. The next major milestone is high gain antenna deployment, due within the next 24 hours (though that won't actually be used for communication for another couple of weeks as the signal is really too strong up this close for the deep space network antennae). ExoMars will undergo tests throughout April (Early Operations Phase) to make sure all the instruments check out ok and then it will be left to cruise to the red planet with a signal health check every few days or so.
    2e2a: commands have been uplinked and the spacecraft is running through health checks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  25. twentythreedom

    twentythreedom Olly Murs is a cock

    Fascinating stuff as always, 2hats :thumbs:
     
  26. StoneRoad

    StoneRoad heckling from the back!

    good news so far ...
     
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  27. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    Heh :)

     
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  28. 2hats

    2hats

    Looks like the TGO/Lander might have dodged a bullet - the Briz-M upper stage appears to have exploded shortly after payload separation (previous Briz-M upper stages have suffered from similar problems). Additional objects have been observed in proximity to the payload:
    [​IMG]
    (the payload is the brighter object tracking from bottom right to top left in this image, the debris being the less bright cloud of objects following similar trajectories nearby - and indeed ahead and in the upper right hand portion of the imagery).

    So instead of ending up in a graveyard orbit, the Briz-M stage (or parts of it) appear to be on an interplanetary trajectory to Mars. So far there is no evidence the incident has damaged the ExoMars payload and the likelihood of subsequent damage is fairly low (if the larger pieces keep venting randomly much like previous examples then most likely they will slowly drift further from the payload anyway). However the unsterilised upper stage parts are now en route to Mars when they, well it, was supposed to have pushed itself into a suncentric disposal orbit. On the plus side, it may be that any entry into the Martian atmosphere may prove too hot for any microbes to survive.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
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  29. 2hats

    2hats

    The TGO and lander are now arriving at Mars - both separated successfully yesterday in preparation for their respective roles. The main event comes this Wednesday when the orbiter has to execute a burn to put it in orbit around Mars and around the same time the lander descends to the surface (atmospheric entry interface expected to be arrived at around 1542BST and landing due around 1548BST). Live coverage here.
     
  30. wayward bob

    wayward bob i ate all your bees

    landing spot looking pretty damn fine :cool:

    [​IMG]
     
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