GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — An international team of scientists has created a tiny chemistry lab for a rover that will drill beneath the Martian surface looking for signs of past or present life. The toaster oven-sized lab, called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer or MOMA, is a key instrument on the ExoMars Rover, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, with a significant contribution to MOMA from NASA. It will be launched toward the Red Planet in July 2020.
BERLIN (ESA PR) — ESA and NASA signed a statement of intent today to explore concepts for missions to bring samples of martian soil to Earth.
Spacecraft in orbit and on Mars’s surface have made many exciting discoveries, transforming our understanding of the planet and unveiling clues to the formation of our Solar System, as well as helping us understand our home planet. The next step is to bring samples to Earth for detailed analysis in sophisticated laboratories where results can be verified independently and samples can be reanalysed as laboratory techniques continue to improve. (more…)
KIRUNA, Sweden (ESA PR) — The largest parachute ever to fly on a Mars mission has been deployed in the first of a series of tests to prepare for the upcoming ExoMars mission that will deliver a rover and a surface science platform to the Red Planet.
The spacecraft that will carry them is due for launch in July 2020, with arrival at Mars in March 2021. The rover will be the first of its kind to drill below the surface and determine if evidence of life is buried underground, protected from the destructive radiation that impinges the surface today.
PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.
The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.
SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — UK Space Agency allocates more than €1.4 billion over the next five years to European Space Agency programmes at the Council of Ministers in Lucerne, Switzerland.
€670.5 million investment in satellite technology for UK industry and science, including telecommunications, Earth observation, navigation and satellite services supporting every sector of the economy, including
€23 million to build on UK leadership of ESA’s climate change monitoring programme, based at the ECSAT facility in Harwell, Oxford. €82.4 million for the next phase of the ExoMars programme, to put a British-built rover on the surface of Mars.
€71 million for ESA’s International Space Station programme to 2021 and for the future of deep space exploration, building on the legacy of Tim Peake’s Principia mission
Ministers from 22 ESA member countries approved a multi-year spending plan of €10.3 billion ($11 billion) for the European space agency, a reduction from the €11 billion ($11.74 billion) that Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner had sought.
The budget includes an extension of the International Space Station to 2020 to 2024. ESA was the last of the international partners to approve the extension after the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.
Accusations are flying that ESA’s ExoMars Schiaparelli lander crashed into the Red Planet due to poor ground testing conducted by a Romanian company named ARCA Space.
ESA released the preliminary conclusions after the Italian Space Agency had accused that the decisive tests for the Sciaparelli lander simulations had been entrusted to an organization “which hadn’t enough expertize”. It’s about Arca Space Romanian company, based in Las Cruces, USA, as La Repubblica reported.
In retort, the Arca Space Corporation manager, Dumitru Popescu warned the Italian space agency to be more careful, as they don’t have proves to support their accusations. “They could pay the price. We are at ease that we did all we could do: to run a specific test we should have flown very closely to the Russian base in Sevastopol. Russia has just annexed Crimea and we risked generating a conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO,” the Romanian manager argued.
ESA said last week that an inertia measurement unit became saturated with data during descent, providing data that made the lander’s computer believe the vehicle was either about to land or had already landed. The computer ordered the release of the parachute even though the lander was still 3.7 km above the martian surface.
Schiaparelli was designed to test the landing system for a rover that ESA plans to place on the surface. Agency officials have said they gained valuable data from the test.
Arca Space has set up operations in Las Cruces, NM, where it is making hover boards.
DARMSTADT, Germany (ESA PR) — A high-resolution image taken by a NASA Mars orbiter this week reveals further details of the area where the ExoMars Schiaparelli module ended up following its descent on 19 October.
DARMSTADT, Germany, 21 October 2016 (ESA PR) — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to ESA’s ExoMars Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing technology demonstrator module.
DARMSTADT, Germany, 20 October 2016 (ESA PR) — Essential data from the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander sent to its mothership Trace Gas Orbiter during the module’s descent to the Red Planet’s surface yesterday has been downlinked to Earth and is currently being analysed by experts.
DARMSTADT, Germany, 19 October 2016 (ESA PR) — The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) of ESA’s ExoMars 2016 has successfully performed the long 139-minute burn required to be captured by Mars and entered an elliptical orbit around the Red Planet, while contact has not yet been confirmed with the mission’s test lander from the surface.
ESA has placed its ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter into orbit around the Red Planet. However, the fate of the Schiaparelli lander lander remains unknown. No signal has been received yet.
18:53 CEST: The ExoMars/TGO spacecraft completed its critical orbit-insertion manoeuvre at Mars today and its signals were received by ground stations at 18:34 CEST, just as expected. The timely re-acquisition indicates the engine burn went as planned, and mission controllers are waiting for a detailed assessment from the flight dynamics specialists at ESOC to confirm it.
Teams monitoring the Schiaparelli lander continue waiting for indication of the lander’s progress. Engineers are waiting for the next signal receipt slot, which will be provided by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will overfly the Schiaparelli landing site between about 18:49 and 19:03 CEST, and downlink any received signals at around 20:00 CEST.
18:35 CEST: ACQUISITION OF SIGNAL from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter after it emerged from behind Mars.
17:28 CEST: The orbit insertion manoeuvre of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter should have ended but the spacecraft is now behind Mars on the line of sight from Earth. Acquisition of signal is expected when TGO emerges from behind Mars after 18:32 CEST.
17:12 CEST: End of planned Schiaparelli transmission. Initial signals were received via the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) as Schiaparelli descended to the surface of Mars, but no signal indicating touchdown yet. This is not unexpected due to the very faint nature of the signal received at GMRT. A clearer assessment of the situation will come when ESA’s Mars Express will have relayed the recording of Schiaparelli’s entry, descent and landing.
16:50 CEST: Signals from Mars take 9 minutes 47 seconds to reach Earth today, so the teams are waiting for the first indications that the entry, descent and landing events actually happened at Mars. It may take some hours to get official confirmation that Schiaparelli has landed on the Red Planet. Stay tuned.
The ESA TV programme will be broadcast on this page in two parts on 19 October:
15:44–16:59 GMT / 17:44–18:59 CEST 18:25–20:03 GMT / 20:25–22:03 CEST
For additional mission status text updates see here.
20 October – Status Report and First Images
A press conference is scheduled for 20 October at 08:00 GMT / 10:00 CEST, when a mission status update is expected, along with the first images from the Schiaparelli descent camera. This will also be streamed live via the player above.