European Space Agency's image exploration two failures

Mars reconnaissance satellite photographs the crash of Exomas first lander


The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a mission launched by NASA in 2005 for reconnaissance and research of external phenomena occurring on Mars. The Mars reconnaissance satellite entered the final target orbit in 2006, and based on the camera and spectroscope onboard, it has passed the originally planned mission for more than two years and is now with the Mars Express and 2001 Mars Odyssey. He is still working on Mars research and filming.


Senior orbiters that first arrived on Mars, such as Mars reconnaissance satellites, are widely used as such. One of their most important roles is to help other late missions by investigating information necessary for landing, centering on possible landing sites for other missions in the future.

Imagination of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter © NASA
Imagination of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter © NASA

Mars reconnaissance satellites did not accurately capture the fall of the Schiaparelli EDM lander in the first Exomas mission but succeeded in capturing the tanned surface of Mars due to the fall of the lander. Later, based on images sent by Mars reconnaissance satellites, a joint investigation between the European Space Agency and NASA revealed that the separation of the gas tracking orbiter and Schiaparelli was not properly performed. A fault in the altitude sensor caused an error in calculating the duration of the reverse rocket and the separation time of the parachute was faster than expected. Therefore, it is presumed that an accident occurred due to a fire after falling to the surface of Mars at a point several kilometers above Mars.

First image of crash trail left by Exomas lander © NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
First image of crash trail left by Exomas lander © NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Thorough preparation for the success of the second exomas mission


The European Space Agency has already succeeded in re-challenging after one failure, such as the Cluster/Cluster II mission for the study of the Earth's magnetic field. The Exomas mission was originally planned for two launches, and due to an unexpected mistake in the first mission, the preparation of the second mission was being accelerated. The total weight of the equipment that will be installed in the second mission of Exomas is at least 1.8 tons, so a parachute is needed to reduce the speed when falling.


Although the low-altitude parachute test conducted in 2018 ended successfully, the high-altitude parachute test conducted in May 2019 is expected to end in failure and will be two years later than originally planned in 2020. This is because we have to wait once more when Mars gets closer to Earth.

Schematic diagram of a parachute that will operate in stages © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022
Schematic diagram of a parachute that will operate in stages © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022

With the failure of the parachute test, the final gateway for landing on Mars, the European Space Agency has announced that it will prepare for it based on cooperation with NASA, which has already successfully landed Mars rovers on Mars. The United States is also the only country to have successfully landed on Mars to date. According to current plans, Exomas' second mission is scheduled to launch in September 2022 and land on Mars in June 2023.


Features of the second exomas mission (ExoMars 2022)


Unlike the first mission, the second mission will not have an orbiter, and will be equipped with a cruise stage instead, and will be equipped with a Kazachok lander and Rosalind Franklin Mars rover.

A comparison diagram of the 2nd Exomas mission of a huge size similar to the size of Big Ben when all the parachutes are unfolded (left) Three equipments to be loaded in the second Exomas mission (right) © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022
A comparison diagram of the 2nd Exomas mission of a huge size similar to the size of Big Ben when all the parachutes are unfolded (left) Three equipments to be loaded in the second Exomas mission (right) © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022

The cruise stage is a design similar to that used by the Mars rover InSight, and it was developed and manufactured in-house by the German Space Agency. Through the above equipment, power supply using solar panels can be received and communication with the earth is also possible.

Schematic diagram of the cruise stage © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022
Schematic diagram of the cruise stage © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022

The lander is a modified version of the first Exomas lander, the Skiaparelli lander, and after a successful landing on Mars, the rover was stably placed on the surface of Mars, and the landing site was photographed, and the atmosphere and climate of Mars were captured. I am going to monitor it. It is also expected to analyze the Mars radiation environment and study the distribution of groundwater at the landing site. Through this, it is expected to conduct a physical investigation into the internal structure of Mars. Equipment to be mounted on the lander includes HABIT (Habitability: Salt Water, Irradiation and Temperature) package, meteorological package METEO, magnetometer MAIGRET, and radio equipment LaRa (Lander Radioscience). The fixed lander is expected to operate for at least one year at Earth's age, and the units are powered by solar cells.

ExoMars 2022 lander imagination with Mars Rover © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars 2022
ExoMars 2022 lander imagination with Mars Rover © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars 2022

Rosalind Franklin's Mars Exploration Rover had already been unveiled in 2006 and early 2007. The upper rover, scheduled to land in June 2023, is designed to autonomously navigate the surface of Mars. The above Rover's unique feature is that it will be equipped with a Pasteur analytical laboratory to find biomolecules and biological evidence that existed on Mars in the past. The above equipment includes detailed equipment such as Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, infrared hyperspectral microscope (MicrOmega-IR), and Raman Laser Spectrometer. In addition, the upper rover is equipped with a drill capable of digging up to 2 meters. After collecting samples using a drill, the experiment will be conducted on-site. The mass of the rover is known to be around 207 kg. The outside of the rover is also equipped with a Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies, an Infrared Spectrometer for ExoMars, and an Autonomous Detector of Radiation of Neutrons Onboard Rover at Mars.

European Space Agency's first Mars rover under test Rosalind Franklin in action © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022
European Space Agency's first Mars rover under test Rosalind Franklin in action © ESA/Roscomos/ExoMars2022

In order to better understand Mars' methane as well as Mars life and its basic environment, studies currently underway or in the near future are of great importance. We, humans, are currently collecting numerous puzzle pieces for this purpose, and efforts are continuing to find clues about life on Mars. Sometimes small puzzle pieces become cornerstones for the whole large cream. What new puzzle pieces will EXOMAS' second mission bring?

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