ExoMars 2016/2020 Data and Analysis (updates)


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I did a search for a mission thread, but only came up with a few older miscellaneous topics. Since the mission will be ready to start in 2016, a lot of data is available now, and is beginning to be more frequent. There is a lot of data available, and a lot of scenario's for discussion, so over the next few weeks, the thread will be populated with "toy's and goodies" to put things in perspective....There are a lot of "tie ins" over the next few years of this mission.

The first few posts will be about recent articles and we will be able to start the ball rolling. If you have any related news, idea's or scenario's, please post them...:)

Launch of European Mars mission delayed two months


Artist’s concept of the Schiaparelli lander separating from the Trace Gas Orbiter on final approach to Mars. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab


Officials expect to delay next year’s launch of a European Mars orbiter and lander about two months — from January to March — to remove faulty pressure transducers from the landing craft’s braking system, the European Space Agency announced Friday.

The launch includes an orbiter built to study the Martian atmosphere and search for trace gases such as methane, which could be a signature for ongoing biological or geological activity on Mars. A 600-kilogram (1,322-pound) stationary lander will accompany the Trace Gas Orbiter to Mars, aiming to complete Europe’s first successful touchdown on the red planet.

Engineers discovered a problem with two pressure transducers in the Schiaparelli lander’s propulsion system, a flaw that could have threatened the mission, which is primarily aimed at demonstrating technologies for entry, descent and landing on Mars.

“A failure in the production process of the pressure transducers has been identified and this leads to concerns about leakage, which represents a major risk to a successful landing on Mars,” said Don McCoy, ESA ExoMars project manager, in a press release.

ESA said the transducers “are not part of the control loop necessary for landing, but would rather have gathered ancillary data for monitoring the system.”



Given the short time before next year’s Mars launch window, engineers decided to remove the sensors rather than replace them, according to ESA.

The mission now has from March 14 through March 25 to blast off. Mars launch opportunities come approximately every 26 months, when the planets are properly aligned to make the journey possible.

“ESA has decided not to accept this risk and to remove both units from the landing module, the knock-on effect being that we can no longer maintain the January 2016 launch window and will instead move to the back-up launch window in March,” McCoy said in a statement.



The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli landing module undergo vibration testing in April 2015 at Thales Alenia Space in France. Credit: ESA/S. Corvaja


Named for Giovanni Schiaparelli, the Italian astronomer who mapped Martian surface features in the 19th century, the lander will touch down on Meridiani Planum, not far from the flat plains being explored by NASA’s Opportunity rover.

The ExoMars 2016 mission, the first segment of a two-launch European Mars program, is set to lift off from Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Proton rocket. The second launch of the ExoMars program will deliver a European-built mobile rover to the Martian surface after a launch in 2018.

The ExoMars 2016 launch window previously opened Jan. 7.

The spacecraft will still reach Mars in October as previously planned, and the Schiaparelli lander will ride piggyback on the Trace Gas Orbiter for the seven-month trip.

The descent probe will separate from the orbiter three days before arrival at Mars, then dive into the Martian atmosphere at 21,000 kilometers per hour, or about 13,000 mph.

A 2.4-meter (7.9-foot) diameter ablative heat shield made of cork powder and phenolic resin will protect the lander against the heat of atmospheric entry, then Schiaparelli will deploy a supersonic parachute and fire liquid-fueled thrusters to slow down to walking speed just above the surface.

The thrusters will then switch off and the lander will drop to the surface, cushioned by the landing module’s crushable outer structure.

The battery-powered lander will collect atmospheric data during its descent, and a downward-facing camera will record imagery during the final touchdown sequence. Officials expect the lander to survive up to eight days on the surface.

On-board sensors will monitor the Martian weather and broadcast data back to Earth through the Trace Gas Orbiter, which will maneuver into orbit around Mars to begin a five-year science and data relay mission.



ExoMars delay reshuffles Proton manifest

Schiaparelli, also known as the ExoMars Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module, EDM, being craned into position for mating with the Trace Gas Orbiter, TGO, in the Cannes facility of Thales Alenia Space, France, on 11 April 2015.


On September 18, the European Space Agency, ESA, confirmed that the latest technical problems with the ExoMars-2016project would require to postpone the delivery of the dual orbiter-lander spacecraft to Baikonur Cosmodrome from Oct. 21, 2015, to January 2016. As a result, the Proton rocket launch carrying ExoMars-2016 would slip from its primary window in January to a backup opportunity extending from March 14 to March 25, 2016. In turn, the ExoMars delay freed Proton launch facilities and personnel for at least one extra mission, which would follow ExoMars if it had not been postponed.

As of September, two Proton's commercial passengers -- Eutelsat and Intelsat -- had their payloads ready to go: Eutelsat-9B and Intelsat-31 communications satellites. Only one could be scheduled before the delivery of the Trace Gas Orbiter, TGO, and Schiaparelli lander to Baikonur, which would occupy key Proton's processing facilities, thus precluding parallel operations with other spacecraft.

By September 21, the launch of Eutelsat-9B was expected to precede ExoMars mission in January 2016, while the Intelsat-31 would wait until April, followed by the launch of the Echostar-21 satellite in May. Still, the final choice between the two payloads was not expected until the end of the week and it would be based on the lowest risk among the two payloads.


Lots to come yet.........:)

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Faulty Component that Delayed ExoMars Affects Other ESA Programs

PARIS — A defective batch of pressure gauges that forced a two-month delay in the launch of Europe’s ExoMars 2016 mission has disrupted multiple other programs but was identified early enough to prevent any of the leaky units from launching, the European Space Agency said Sept. 22.

In response to SpaceNews inquiries, ESA said the same pressure transducers whose suspected leaks forced the agency to delay, to March, the launch of the ExoMars mission have been removed or repaired on a half-dozen other missions — all in time to prevent in-orbit problems.

“Beyond ExoMars there is a whole group of missions affected, but for all of them there is adequate time to either repair the existing transducers or procure new ones,” the agency said in a statement.


“For the science program, BepiColombo [a Mercury mission slated to launch in 2017] will fly these sensors but they have been procured prior to the lots that are affected, [so] no risk for BepiColombo,” the agency said. “Further, Solar Orbiter and Cheops are affected and will repair and exchange, respectively, the sensors with no impact on the overall mission planning.”

The Cheops exoplanet-hunting satellite and the Solar Orbiter sun-focused mission are scheduled for launch in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The two-month delay in the launch, aboard a Russian Proton rocket, of the Euro-Russian ExoMars 2016 orbiter and entry, descent and landing module is a rare case in which the usual Mars launch window, which typically opens every two years, permits liftoffs just two months apart.

Rolf de Groot, head of ESA’s robotic exploration coordination office, said ExoMars 2016 will arrive in Mars orbit in October, around the same time as it would have were it launched in January.

The delay was caused by a component alert issued in early September by producer Moog Bradford of Heerle, the Netherlands, a unit of Aurora, New York-based Moog Inc. Moog Bradford did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sept. 22. The company’s U.S. headquarters said none of the company’s divisions would discuss the issue without prior customer approval.

The company, which says it has a zero-failure-in-orbit record, has nearly 500 pressure transducers on missions that have yet to be retired or have yet to launch. These missions include, in addition to ExoMars, Europe’s Galileo positioning, navigation and timing satellites; the new Small-Geo platform for telecommunications and other missions; the EarthCare Earth observation mission; and the Cygnus space station cargo carrier.



For ExoMars, the transducers, each weighing less than 1 kilogram, were to monitor pressure in the entry, descent and landing module’s helium pressurization tank and the hydrazine fuel tank.

ESA has decided to remove them, not replace them, given that their role is noncritical to the lander’s functioning.

De Root said ExoMars’ Joint Steering Board, with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency and ESA, is scheduled to meet Sept. 24 at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands, to give final approval to the new launch schedule.

De Root said ESA was informed in early September by ExoMars prime contractor Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy that a defective welding machine had left a series of transducers, all made in 2013, susceptible to leakage.

“We looked at the risk the transducers brought to the mission and decided not to accept it,” de Root said in a Sept. 22 interview. “There was a high risk of mission failure during descent [to the Mars surface] in 2016.

“This was not something we discovered in testing. It was brought to the attention of the prime contractor by the manufacturer that the welding machine defect could produce cracks in the transducers. Whether these cracks would lead to leaks is something we would not learn until we were in the descent stage at Mars. That’s not when you want to find this out as it would have led to a full loss of mission.”

For a January launch, the ExoMars hardware would have been shipped to the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21. The new launch date of March 14-25 will allow the shipment to be delayed to early December.

De Root said one advantage to moving to the later launch date is that it will allow for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter’s high-resolution Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System camera, which will be a late arrival, to be integrated onto the orbiter at Thales Alenia Space’s Rome plant rather than at the Baikonur launch base.

The entry, descent and landing module, powered by batteries, is expected to operate for only two or three days on the Martian surface. The European rover vehicle to launch as part of the ExoMars 2018 mission with Russia will carry a radioisotope heating unit to provide power and keep the rover’s instruments warm at night.



 Looks like the next window is March 14 to March 25, 2016 for launch of the combination Trace Gas Orbiter and the descent test unit. The lander will be on the second launch, scheduled for 2018......a few posts later on, will show this to be delayed as well...with a few scenario's


Next Mars mission is ESA’s ExoMars

ESA’s ExoMars consists of two separate missions to investigate Mars. The first, set to launch in January 2016, consists of an orbiter and lander.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has established the ExoMars program, which consists of two separate missions to investigate the Red Planet orbiting one step outward from Earth, and to test the latest aerospace technology. The first mission, set to launch in 2016, consists of an orbiter and lander. The lander is called Schiaparelli. The second mission, scheduled for 2018, intends to deliver a European rover and a Russian surface platform to Mars’ surface. Both missions share the same main objective: they will search for evidence of methane and other indicators of active biology on Mars.

Scheduled for January 2016, the ESA will launch the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Entry, Decent, and Landing Demonstrator module (EDM, aka Schiaparelli) on a proton rocket. Due to the relative positions Earth and Mars in orbit around the sun at that time, the cruise phase will be a succinct 9 months.

Three days before the modules reach Martian atmosphere, Schiaparelli will eject and land on the planet’s surface.

During its decent to the surface, Schiaparelli will communicate back to the orbiter, which will be positioned in an elliptical orbit around Mars. The module is designed to maximize the use of currently developed technology within the ExoMars program, which includes specially produced thermal protection, a parachute system, a radar Doppler altimeter system, and a liquid propulsion braking system.

Schiaparelli is expected to function on the surface of Mars by utilizing the excess energy capacity of its batteries. While its abilities are limited due to the absence of long-term power, the sensors that will be functional will perform powerful surface observations on its landing site, the Martian plain Meridiani Planum, which is close to the planet’s equator. This area of interest contains an ancient layer of hematite, an iron oxide, which is found in aquatic environments on Earth.

The EDM module is expected to last approximately 2 – 8 days upon landing.


Artist’s concept of ExoMars EDM – aka Schiaparelli – which will enter the Martian atmosphere at an altitude of 75 miles (120 km). The heat shield will protect the lander from the severe heat flux and deceleration from Mach 35 (35 times the speed of sound) to Mach 5.

As soon as the EDM has slowed down to Mach 2 (2 times the speed of sound, for example, the speed of a military fighter aircraft), a parachute will be deployed to further decelerate the lander.

Meanwhile the Trace Gas Orbiter will be observing the atmospheric gases that are present throughout the Martian atmosphere. A key goal of the mission is to gain better insight into the production and release of methane gas, which are present in small concentrations (less than 1% of the atmosphere). As the TGO orbits the red planet it will be able to detect methane, which has been shown to vary in location and time on the planet’s surface. Since methane is short-lived on geological time scales, its presence implies the existence of some kind of active source. And since both geological and biological processes produce methane, that source is of high interest to scientists.

Soaring 250 miles (400 km) above the Martian surface the Orbiter will detect a wide range of gases alongside methane, including water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, and acetylene, with an accuracy three times better than any previous measurements.

The findings will provide evidence regarding the location and sources of these gases, which will lead to selecting the landing sites for the 2018 rover mission.

The ESA’s latest ExoMars mission marks a progressive step toward truly understanding the mysteries of Mars. Constructed with the goal to advance ingenuity and scientific knowledge, the ESA’s mission is sure to lead to exciting results.

By the way, the next NASA mission to Mars won’t be far behind ESA’s ExoMars mission. NASA’s next mission is a stationary lander scheduled to launch in March 2016. The lander – called InSight, for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport – is about the size of a car and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the interior structure of Mars.


Bottom line: ESA’s ExoMars consists of two separate missions to investigate Mars. The first, set to launch in January 2016, consists of an orbiter and lander. The lander is called Schiaparelli. The second mission, scheduled for 2018, will deliver a European rover and a Russian surface platform to Mars’ surface. Both missions are aimed at the search for evidence of methane and other indicators of active biological activity on Mars. 



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There have been quite a few missions to Mars over the years. Here is a list from 1960 to modern times, as well as future planned missions...


From that list...here are the ones which will be of interest, down the road, and will overlap...

InSight (US)
Launch planned in March 2016. Lander.

The Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport (InSight) lander is designed to probe Mars' interior with two instruments: a seismometer and heat flow probe. The heat flow probe will penetrate the Martian surface to a depth of 5 m to monitor the planet's temperature. The seismometer will listen for Marsquakes and use that information to map the boundaries between the rock layers inside the planet. InSight is scheduled to launch in March 2016 and land on Mars six months later. The lander's mission will run until September 2018, a period of one Martian year.

ExoMars 2016 / ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli (ESA / Russia)
Orbiter and lander. Launch planned in 2016.

This mission, a partnership between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos, involves a Trace Gas Orbiter that will survey the global distribution of trace gases in the planet's atmosphere. The orbiter will release an entry, descent, and landing demonstrator module named Schiaparelli, which will make a controlled landing on the planet's surface. Schiaparelli will collect data throughout the descent and will prove key technologies to demonstrate Europe's capability to make a controlled landing on Mars. Once on the surface, Schiaparelli will measure wind speed, humidity, pressure, temperature, atmospheric clarity and electricity in the atmosphere.

ExoMars 2018 (ESA / Russia)
Lander and rover. Launch planned in 2018.

This mission will deliver a European rover and a Russian surface platform to the surface of Mars. ESA's six-wheeled ExoMars rover is solar powered. It will use a panoramic camera, close-up camera, and drill for rock samples. The drill is designed to extract samples from various depths, down to a maximum of two metres. An infrared spectrometer will characterise the mineralogy in the borehole. Samples will be analysed in its chemical laboratory in a search for organic molecules. The rover will also use ground-penetrating radar to characterise the subsurface and search for water. The rover is expected to travel several kilometres during its mission.

[back to top]


Mars 2020 (US)
Launch planned in 2020.

In December 2012, NASA announced plans to launch a rover mission, as a follow-up to Curiosity, in 2020. Similar in design to Curiosity, the rover will search for evidence of life and collect samples for possible return to Earth at a later date. The rover will also collect data essential for planning future human expeditions to Mars.

Beyond 2020:

Various space agencies are interested in returning Mars samples to Earth and working toward the long-term goal of landing human explorers on the Red Planet.



From ESA....

 The Orbiter and EDM will be launched together in January 2016 on a Proton rocket and will fly to Mars in a mated configuration. By taking advantage of the positioning of Earth and Mars the cruise phase can be limited to about 9 months. Three days before reaching the atmosphere of Mars, the EDM will be ejected from the Orbiter towards the Red Planet. The EDM capsule will then coast towards its destination, entering the Martian atmosphere and landing on the surface of the planet. From its coasting to Mars till its landing, the EDM will communicate with the Orbiter. Once on the surface, the communications of the EDM will be supported from a NASA Relay Orbiter. The ExoMars Orbiter will be inserted into an elliptical orbit around Mars and then sweep through the atmosphere to finally settle into a circular, ~ 400-km  altitude orbit ready to conduct its scientific mission.




The Orbiter spacecraft is designed by ESA, while Roscosmos provides the launch vehicle. A scientific payload with instruments from Russia and Europe will be accommodated on the Orbiter to achieve its scientific objectives. The ExoMars 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 instruments onboard the Orbiter will carry out a variety of measurements to investigate the location and nature of sources that produce these gases. The scientific mission is expected to begin in mid 2017 for a period of at least one Martian year (687 Earth days). The Trace Gas Orbiter will also serve as a data relay asset for the 2018 rover mission of the ExoMars programme and until the end of 2022.



The ExoMars Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module will provide Europe with the technology for landing on the surface of Mars with a controlled landing orientation and touchdown velocity. The design of the EDM maximises the use of technologies already in development within the ExoMars programme. These technologies include: special material for thermal protection, a parachute system, a radar Doppler altimeter system, and a final braking system controlled by liquid propulsion.

The EDM is expected to survive on the surface of Mars for a short time by using the excess energy capacity of its batteries. The science possibilities of the EDM are limited by the absence of long term power and the fixed amount of space and resources that can be accommodated within the module; however, a set of scientific sensors will be included to perform limited, but useful, surface science.




If all goes to plan, or roughly there about, The US lander, "Insight", will launch in March of 2016, and take about 6 month's to get there. The first part of ExoMars will launch in March of 2016, and take 9 month to get there. ExoMars launch 2, will be delayed, probably till 2019/2020, will have a rover and drilling rig, with equipment for exobiology and geochemical analysis. In 2020, NASA will be launching another rover to get samples for a later return......"Red Dragon grumblings"

The ExoMars first phase will be doing the trace gas analysis....and this includes methane distributions....and this is the data that will come in extremely handy for SpaceX. Densities and distributions will be mapped. This will help to finalize an area for a robotic fuel depot which SpaceX will be sending, prior to sending manned vessels.  

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If you've got Methane and Carbon, and a Laboratory with Solar Power on Mars, you've got everything else that you need. :yes:

Can't wait to see what First Phase results are. I wanna help narrow down Landing Sites. :D

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If you've got Methane and Carbon, and a Laboratory with Solar Power on Mars, you've got everything else that you need. :yes:

Can't wait to see what First Phase results are. I wanna help narrow down Landing Sites. :D

Yes, it's going to be neat, to see the results from phase one. I will be posting the rover spots for Nasa as well as ESA selection spots, to see the data we have so far, so we can see what we have. I was also thinking of linking your Mars thread here for data mining, it has a lot of neat stuff, if you don't mind...will wait for answer. These missions are going to overlap, and later, we will see that SpaceX may have a role between these two agency missions.....:)

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Here are two recent articles of interest, for Mars....

 The Fact and Fiction of Martian Dust Storms

Dust Devil On Mars    NASA

For years, science fiction writers from Edgar Rice Burroughs to C. S. Lewis have imagined what it would be like for humans to walk on Mars. As mankind comes closer to taking its first steps on the Red Planet, authors' depictions of the experience have become more realistic.

Andy Weir's "The Martian" begins with a massive dust storm that strands fictional astronaut Mark Watney on Mars. In the scene, powerful wind rips an antenna out of a piece of equipment and destroys parts of the astronauts' camp.

Mars is infamous for intense dust storms, which sometimes kick up enough dust to be seen by telescopes on Earth.

"Every year there are some moderately big dust storms that pop up on Mars and they cover continent-sized areas and last for weeks at a time," said Michael Smith, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Beyond Mars' large annual storms are massive storms that occur more rarely but are much larger and more intense.

"Once every three Mars years (about 5 Earth years), on average, normal storms grow into planet-encircling dust storms, and we usually call those 'global dust storms' to distinguish them," Smith said.


It is unlikely that even these dust storms could strand an astronaut on Mars, however. Even the wind in the largest dust storms likely could not tip or rip apart major mechanical equipment. The winds in the strongest Martian storms top out at about 60 miles per hour, less than half the speed of some hurricane-force winds on Earth.

Focusing on wind speed may be a little misleading, as well. The atmosphere on Mars is about 1 percent as dense as Earth's atmosphere. That means to fly a kite on Mars, the wind would need to blow much faster than on Earth to get the kite in the air.

"The key difference between Earth and Mars is that Mars' atmospheric pressure is a lot less," said William Farrell, a plasma physicist who studies atmospheric breakdown in Mars dust storms at Goddard. "So things get blown, but it's not with the same intensity."



Challenges of Solar Power

Mars' dust storms aren't totally innocuous, however. Individual dust particles on Mars are very small and slightly electrostatic, so they stick to the surfaces they contact like Styrofoam packing peanuts.

"If you've seen pictures of Curiosity after driving, it's just filthy," Smith said. "The dust coats everything and it's gritty; it gets into mechanical things that move, like gears."

The possibility of dust settling on and in machinery is a challenge for engineers designing equipment for Mars.

This dust is an especially big problem for solar panels. Even dust devils of only a few feet across -- which are much smaller than traditional storms -- can move enough dust to cover the equipment and decrease the amount of sunlight hitting the panels. Less sunlight means less energy created.

In "The Martian," Watney spends part of every day sweeping dust off his solar panels to ensure maximum efficiency, which could represent a real challenge faced by future astronauts on Mars.

Global storms can also present a secondary issue, throwing enough dust into the atmosphere to reduce sunlight reaching the surface of Mars.

When faced with a larger dust storm in the book, Watney's first hint is the decreased efficiency of his solar panels, caused by a slight darkening of the atmosphere. That's a pretty accurate depiction of what large dust storms can do, Smith said.

When global storms hit, surface equipment often has to wait until the dust settles, either to conserve battery or to protect more delicate hardware.

"We really worry about power with the rovers; it's a big deal," Smith said. "The Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed in 2004, so they've only had one global dust storm to go through (in 2007) and they basically shut down operations and went into survival mode for a few weeks."


Stirring Up Dust

Large global dust storms put enough dust in the air to completely cover the planet and block out the sun, but doing so ultimately dooms the storm itself. The radiative heat of sunlight reaching the surface of the planet is what drives these dust storms.

As sunlight hits the ground, it warms the air closest to the surface, leaving the upper air cooler. As in thunderstorms on Earth, the warm and cool air together become unstable, with warm air rising up and taking dust with it.

Rising plumes of warm air create everything from small dust devils, similar to those that form in deserts on Earth, to larger continent-sized storms. These larger storms sometimes combine into the global storms, which cover the entire planet in atmospheric dust.

Larger storms typically only happen during summer in Mars' southern hemisphere. Seasons on Mars are caused by the tilt of the planet, like on Earth. But Mars' orbit is less circular than Earth's; for part of a Martian year, the planet is closer to the sun and therefore significantly hotter. This warmer time is during the southern hemisphere's summer, so radiative heat forces are strongest then. Once started, bigger storms can last weeks to months.

Scientists aren't really sure why the years' long gaps between storms exist.

"It could be that it just takes a while for the sources to replenish themselves," Smith said. "Maybe there's some kind of cycle that the dust has to go through to get back into the right places to trigger a new one, or maybe it's just kind of luck."

Scientists have been tracking these global dust storms on Mars for more than a century, using both telescopes on Earth and spacecraft orbiting Mars. The storms have been observed a number of times since 1909, most recently in 2007. Now, more than eight years later, Smith is hopeful he'll get the chance to study a major storm soon.

"We're overdue for a global dust storm and it could be saving up a really big one this year, so that would kind of fun," he said. "I like the dust storms."



We can see, from the above article, that dust blackouts and the "static cling", will be issues for solar generation and equipment with movable assemblies. The winds up to 60 mph, can cause a lot of damage with "sail force", structure design will have to reflect this


Here is an article worth reading...

 Mars' Mysterious Dark Streaks Spur Exploration Debate 

NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE image of recurring slope lineae (RSL) in Melas Chasma, Valles Marineris. Arrows point out tops and bottoms of a few lineae.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The dark, fingerlike features that creep down steep Martian slopes in warm weather continue to puzzle scientists.

These "recurring slope lineae" (RSL), which have been spotted by NASA'sMars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) at low and middle latitudes on the Red Planet, fade during cooler months but come back again annually at nearly the same locations over multiple Martian years.

Scientists continue to debate the true nature of the RSL phenomenon; no guess as to what they are and why they occur yet satisfies all observations. And just how RSL sites should be explored generates spirited debate, as evidenced by the discussions that emerged during the second Mars 2020 Landing Site Workshop, which was held last month in Monrovia, California. 

More than 200 researchers and engineers participated in that meeting, sifting through data and imagery in an effort to narrow down potential landing sites for NASA’s next Mars rover, which is scheduled to launch in 2020.



Sites for Mars life?

Evidence is mounting that RSL are the mark of some kind of volatile substance, and a leading theory posits that they are caused by the flow of salt-laden liquid water. If so, could RSL be the best markers of available water to help sustain future crewed Mars expeditions?

RSL sites may also offer insights into subsurface Mars, as well as help identify places where microbial life could occur on the Red Planet, some scientists say.

For example, researcher David Stillman has studied an RSL site in the huge Martian canyon Valles Marineris that he suggests is being recharged by an aquifer.

The total amount of water liberated from that area equals eight to 17 Olympic-size swimming pools, and the only way to annually recharge such a large volume of water is via an aquifer, said Stillman, who's based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

"I just think that these features are the best places to look for extant life," Stillman told Space.com at the workshop.


Features called recurring slope lineae (RSL), which could indicate seasonal flows of salty water, are found on some Martian slopes in warmer months. Red arrows point out an RSL in this image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera system on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: A. McEwen/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


There are massive glaciers in the polar regions, but the extreme cold as well. These sightings are in the equatorial areas. 

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Yes, it's going to be neat, to see the results from phase one. I will be posting the rover spots for Nasa as well as ESA selection spots, to see the data we have so far, so we can see what we have. I was also thinking of linking your Mars thread here for data mining, it has a lot of neat stuff, if you don't mind...will wait for answer. These missions are going to overlap, and later, we will see that SpaceX may have a role between these two agency missions.....:)

Who's to say it hasn't been already? :yes: Good ideas are universal; and I'm sure that any contribution(s) we make to an endeavour as important as a Human-centric Mars Mission, however small or large --especially a contribution that 1) saves a life and/or equipment up to and including the mission itself, or 2) allowed the Mission to go forward with the best possible plan and use of resources & hardware -- we'll be pleased to know that we thought of that contingency and had an answer for it.

Make no mistake -- we ARE smart enough to assist with this work, educated enough to confidently stand by our conclusions and goals that we put forward in that Mars Colonization/Mission Thread, and we ARE "good enough for the task" as rational, passionate and (above all) scientifically-grounded contributors to that "Ultimate Goal" that should one or more of us be "called up" if our services were needed by the appropriate parties (SpaceX, Bigelow Aerospace, etc) we would not hesitate to provide our services. Of course, we would need compensation ... SpaceX doesn't work for free and neither should we. :D

So please, by all means, link the other thread if you want. I wouldn't be offended in the least. :)

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To help kick things off, here are a few mission video's to describe the mission.....

ExoMars Orbiter 2016 and ExoMars Rover 2018: Searching for Life on Mars

video is 4:48 min



ExoMars: Sub-Scale Parachute High-Altitude Drop Test

video is 0:42 min



The ExoMars Drill - Footage from Testing


video is 1:59 min



Exomars...video is 4:02 min


Exomars rover (ESA + Роскосмос) 2018

video is 2:49 min



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Few photo's...



ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module is seen here during tests in the anechoic test chamber of Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, on 5 March 2015.


The Orbiter itself will remain in Mars orbit to image surface features and study the composition of the atmosphere.


The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM). The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA's contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.




The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter core module, constructed by OHB System AG.


The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module consisting of the spacecraft structure, thermal control and propulsion systems was handed over by OHB System to Thales Alenia Space France at a ceremony held 3 February 2014 in Bremen, Germany.


Comprising two missions that will be launched to Mars in 2016 and 2018, respectively, ExoMars will address the outstanding scientific question of whether life has ever existed on Mars by drilling the surface of the planet and analysing in situ the samples. The ExoMars programme will also demonstrate key technologies for entry, descent, landing, drilling and roving on the martian surface.


The Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, will be launched in 2016 along with Schiaparelli – the entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.


Credit: ESA/OHB





ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter module is seen here during tests in the anechoic test chamber of Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, on 5 March 2015.


The Orbiter itself will remain in Mars orbit to image surface features and study the composition of the atmosphere.


The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM). The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA's contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.


Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2015




ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, also known as the ExoMars Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module are seen here during vibration testing at Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, on 23 April 2015.


The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM). The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA's contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.


The Orbiter itself will remain in Mars orbit to image surface features and study the composition of the atmosphere.


Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2015



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Here are a few odd's and end's...

What is out there, right now....

Larger diagram at the above link...all missions in space for September 2015

ExoMars Mission pdf....16 pages....overview

ESA's ExoMars photo Flicker site....lots of good pictures



NASA In 2016 ExoMars Orbiter

The European Space Agency's (ESA) ExoMars program(Exobiology on Mars) is a series of missions designed to understand if life ever existed on Mars. Just as other countries often participate in NASA Mars missions, NASA contributes scientific, engineering, and technical expertise to other world efforts to explore the Red Planet. The first mission in th ExoMars program is called the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), undertaken in partnership between ESA and Russia's Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos.

NASA's participation in the 2016 ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiterincludes the "Electra" telecommunication radios. Used successfully on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Electra acts as a communications relay and navigation aid for Mars spacecraft. Electra's UHF radios support navigation, command, and data-return needs.

Electra enables precision navigation. As an Electra-carrying spacecraft, ESA's 2016 orbiter can communicate with arriving spacecraft with similar Electra payloads in order to determine their position and speed in relation to Mars upon their approach.

After incoming landers and rovers have arrived safely on the surface of Mars, Electra can provide precise Doppler data. When combined with ESA's 2016 orbiter position information, this Doppler data can accurately determine the location of the lander or rover on the surface of Mars.

Using its nadir-pointed (pointed straight down at the surface) antenna, Electra can also provide UHF coverage to Mars landers and rovers on the surface that may not have sufficient radio power to communicate directly with Earth by themselves.


 ESA narrows down the ExoMars landing site choices


From March 26 to 28, ESA held the first ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Selection Workshop at the agency's European Space Astronomy Centre near Madrid. According to ESA, around 60 scientists and engineers participated, beginning the process of drawing up a shortlist of the most suitable landing locations for the ExoMars rover. Eight proposals that were judged to be most appropriate to the mission's requirements were discussed and an initial shortlist of four favored locations was drawn up at the end of the meeting.

By October 2014, an ESA-appointed panel reduced a number of potential landing sites on the Red Planet from eight to four: Mawrth Vallis, Oxia Planum, Hypanis Vallis and Aram Dorsum. All four are close to the equator.

As quoted on the ESA web site: "The present-day surface of Mars is a hostile place for living organisms, but primitive life may have gained a foothold when the climate was warmer and wetter, between 3.5 billion and 4 billion years ago," says Jorge Vago, ESA's ExoMars project scientist. "Therefore, our landing site should be in an area with ancient rocks where liquid water was once abundant. Our initial assessment clearly identified four landing sites that are best suited to the mission's scientific goals."

The area around Mawrth Vallis and nearby Oxia Planum contains one of the largest exposures of rocks on Mars that are older than 3.8 billion years and clay-rich, indicating that water once played a role here. Mawrth Vallis lies on the boundary between the highlands and lowlands and is one of the oldest outflow channels on Mars.
The exposed rocks at both Mawrth Vallis and Oxia Planum have varied compositions, indicating a variety of deposition and wetting environments. In addition, the material of interest has been exposed by erosion only within the last few hundred million years, meaning the rocks are still well preserved against damage from the planet's harsh radiation and oxidation environment.

By contrast, Hypanis Vallis lies on an exhumed fluvial fan, thought to be the remnant of an ancient river delta at the end of a major valley network. Distinct layers of fine-grained sedimentary rocks provide access to material deposited about 3.45 billion years ago. Finally, the Aram Dorsum site receives its name from the eponymous channel, curving from northeast to west across the location. The sedimentary rocks around the channel are thought to be alluvial sediments deposited much like those around Earth's River Nile. This region experienced both sustained water activity followed by burial, providing protection from radiation and oxidation for most of Mars' geological history, also making this a site with strong potential for finding preserved biosignatures.

"While all four sites are clearly interesting scientifically, they must also allow for the operational and engineering requirements for safe landing and roving on the surface," adds Jorge. "Technical constraints are satisfied to different degrees in each of these locations and, although our preliminary evaluation indicates that Oxia Planum has fewer problems compared to the other sites, verification is still on going."

The next stage of analysis will include simulations to predict the probability of landing success based on the entry profile, atmospheric and terrain properties at each of the candidate sites. The aim is to complete the certification of at least one site by the second half of 2016, with a final decision on the landing site for the ExoMars 2018 rover to be taken sometime in 2017, ESA said.



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Here is a start for our "Tool Box"

NASA Mars Exploration homepage

Martian Space Weather

Google Mars

Mapbox Mars

MarsTrek.....the standard for mapping....

Crism home

Crism Data

USGS Mars Geologic Map

This is the Mars Thinktank thread...loads of data...by BetaguyGZT


Edited by Draggendrop
Added data
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The ThinkTank was by every one of us. I participated like the rest of those interested, and I was happy to do so. :D

And the "Landing Sites" map is extremely interesting! I'm going to pour over that one with a keen eye.

Ahh, DD. You and DocM always find stuff to keep me intellectually occupied. Please don't stop. ;) 

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Today, the MOM's initial data mapping has been released, A pdf is available for download....chock full of data

first...what is MOM...

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan ("Mars-craft", from Sanskritमंगल mangala, "Mars" and यान yāna, "craft, vehicle"),[10][11] is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).[12][13][14][15] It is India's first interplanetary mission[16] and ISRO has become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space programNASA, and the European Space Agency.[17][18] It is the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt.[19][20][21][22]

The Mars Orbiter Mission probe lifted-off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SriharikotaRange SHAR), Andhra Pradesh, using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 at 09:08 UTC on 5 November 2013.[23] The launch window was approximately 20 days long and started on 28 October 2013.[6] The MOM probe spent about a month in Earth orbit, where it made a series of seven apogee-raising orbital manoeuvresbefore trans-Mars injection on 30 November 2013 (UTC).[24] After a 298-day transit to Mars, it was successfully inserted into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014.

The mission is a "technology demonstrator" project to develop the technologies for designing, planning, management, and operations of an interplanetary mission.[25] It carries five instruments that will help advance knowledge about Mars to achieve its secondary, scientific objective.[26] The spacecraft is currently being monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalorewith support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu.[27]


The article ....

ISRO Releases Mars Orbiter Mission Atlas After One Year in Orbit

Mars Orbiter spacecraft marks one year of its life around the red planet today.


After successfully completing one year of the mission life around Mars, now a large data set has been acquired by all five payloads of MOM. On this occasion Space Applications Centre, (ISRO), Ahmedabad has brought out a Mar Atlas which contains a compilation of images acquired by Mars Colour Camera (MCC) and results obtained by other payload results in a form of scientific atlas.

The images from MCC have provided unique information about Mars at varying spatial resolutions. It has obtained Mars Global data showing clouds, dust in atmosphere and surface albedo variations, when acquired from apoapsis at around 72000 km. On the other hand high resolution images acquired from periapsis show details of various morphological features on the surface of Mars. Some of these images have been showcased in this atlas. The images have been categorized depending upon the Martian surface and atmospheric processes.

Mars is one of the closest celestial objects to the Earth and it has attracted humans towards itself since the time immemorial. A large number of unmanned orbiters, landers and rovers have been launched to reach Mars since early 1960s. These missions had provided large amount of data on various scientific aspects of the Mars. The knowledge acquired by the analysis of these data, suggested enhanced possibility of the presence of life, on this now dry and dusty planet.

India has joined the club of space faring nations to explore Mars by sending its first planetary mission called, Mars Orbiter Mission or popularly known as MOM. The MOM spacecraft was designed, built and launched in record period of less than two years. MOM carried five science instruments collecting data on surface geology, morphology, atmospheric processes, surface temperature and atmospheric escape process.


pdf of MOM mission...35.1 Mb file

more resources for use....Later.....:)

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Methane (CH4) is an organic molecule present in gaseous form in the Earth's atmosphere. More than 90% of methane on our home planet is produced by living organisms. The recent detection of plumes of methane in the northern hemisphere of Mars is of great interest because of its potential biological origin, though other explanations may also be possible. 


Elysium Planitia - raised levels of methane were detected by a Mars Express instrument
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Methane breaks up in the presence of ultraviolet solar radiation. Based on photochemical models and on the current understanding of the composition of the Martian atmosphere, methane has a chemical lifetime of about 300-600 years, which is very short on geological time scales. This implies that the methane that is observed today cannot have been produced 4.5 billion years ago, when the planets formed. So what can explain the presence of this gas on the Red Planet?

One possibility is a biological origin.  The discovery of microbial life 2 to 3 kilometres beneath the surface of the Witwatersrand basin in South Africa led scientists to consider that similar organisms could live, or have lived in the past, below the permafrost layer on Mars. By analogy with Earth, the biological origin of Martian methane could be explained by the existence of micro-organisms, called methanogenes, existing deep under the surface, and producing methane as a result of their metabolism.

If the methane on Mars is biotic, two scenarios could be considered: either long-extinct microbes, which disappeared millions of years ago, have left the methane frozen in the Martian upper subsurface, and this gas is being released into the atmosphere today as temperatures and pressure near the surface change, or some very resistant methane-producing organisms still survive.


An alternative explanation is that the methane is geological in origin.  It could be produced, for example, by the oxidation of iron, similar to what occurs in terrestrial hot springs, or in active volcanoes. This gas could have been trapped in solid forms of water, or 'cages', that can preserve methane of ancient origin for a long time. These structures are known as 'clathrate hydrates'.

A geochemical process called serpentinisation could also produce the abiotic methane. Serpentinization is a geological low-temperature metamorphic process involving heat, water, and changes in pressure. It occurs when olivine, a mineral present on Mars, reacts with water, forming another mineral called serpentine, in the presence of carbon dioxide and some catalysts. When certain catalysts are also present, the hydrogen combines with the carbon to form methane. On Mars it is possible to find all these primary elements: olivine, carbon dioxide and some catalysts, but the chemical reaction needs liquid water to occur. This implies that, if the Martian methane comes from serpentinisation, it could be related to subsurface hydrothermal activity.

Concentrations of methane have been observed in 2003 and 2006 in three specific regions of Mars: Terra Sabae, Nili Fossae and Syrtis Major, and data suggest that water once flowed over these areas. Deep liquid water areas below the ice layer would be able to provide a habitat for microorganisms, or a favourable place for the hydro-geochemical production of methane.  Further processing in the Martian atmosphere may play an important role that accounts for the observed seasonal variability.  Whether geochemical or biochemical in origin, the variation in concentrations of methane that has been measured indicates that Mars could still be active today.

One way to confirm the biological origin of methane would be to measure the isotope ratios of carbon and hydrogen, the two elements in methane. Life on Earth tends to use lighter isotopes, for example, more Carbon-12 than Carbon-13, because this requires less energy for bonding.

For further progress to be made in unveiling the origin of methane on Mars, future space missions with new technologies devised to better characterise the Martian environment and its subsurface will be necessary.



Confirming the presence of methane on Mars, a goal of the ExoMars programme

Observations from the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) on ESA's Mars Express and from very high spectral resolution spectrometers on ground-based telescopes, have detected variable amounts of methane in the atmosphere of Mars.  Could this be  evidence for life on Mars?  International space agencies are planning an ambitious, long-term Mars Robotic Exploration Programme to find a definitive answer to this most enduring question.

The scientific objectives of the ExoMars programme 2016-2018 include:  searching for signs of past and present life on Mars, studying the water and geochemical environment as a function of depth in the shallow subsurface, and investigating Martian atmospheric trace gases and their sources.

To achieve these objectives, ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, to be launched to Mars in 2016, will measure and map methane and other important trace gases with high sensitivity to provide insights into the nature of the source through the study of gas ratios and isotopes.

The 2018 ESA ExoMars Rover will search for two types of life signatures, morphological and chemical, with an accurate study of the geological context. Morphological information related to biological processes may be preserved on the surface of rocks or under the surface. Since the surface of Mars is oxidised, the ExoMars drill has been designed to penetrate the surface and obtain samples from well-consolidated (hard) formations, at various depths, down to 2 metres.




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ESA hopes to commit to 2018 Mars rover launch by December

The ExoMars 2018 rover will be assembled by Airbus Defense and Space at its facility in Stevenage, UK. A “Mars Yard” test array has been constructed at the Stevenage plant. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space

With the flagship-class ExoMars program nearing the finish line after a decade in development, European Space Agency officials want to complete negotiations with the mission’s industrial teams before committing to a 2018 launch date for a European-built Mars rover.

Rolf de Groot, head of ESA’s robotic exploration coordination office, said the space agency is finalizing contracts with European industry to build a six-wheeled rover, a carrier stage for the trip from Earth to Mars, and critical components for a descent craft to be largely manufactured in Russia.

Liftoff of the ExoMars rover is set for May 2018, when the positions of Earth and Mars allow for the interplanetary journey. Launch opportunities to Mars generally come about every 26 months, and the next window opens in July and August 2020.

Engineers are under pressure to meet the 2018 launch window, and a formal schedule commitment will not come until ESA signs the final contracts for the mission.

“It’s pretty tight,” de Groot said. “At the moment, we don’t have a fully working schedule for 2018, but we are looking into possiblities to change procedures a bit and to tighten the schedule a little bit. We’re still confident we’ll be able to make it in 2018, but it’s a very tight schedule indeed.”


ESA’s prime contractor for ExoMars is Thales Alenia Space, which is completing work on a Mars orbiter and stationary lander set for launch next year. ESA assigned development of the 2018 rover to Airbus Defense and Space’s division in Britain, and OHB of Germany is working on the cruise stage.

“The negotiations on having the full schedule for 2018 are part of the industrial negotiations for the contract because they are the ones who have to make the schedule work,” de Groot said in a Sept. 25 interview. “It’s an ongoing effort to have a schedule for 2018, and we’re hoping at the end of this year to finalize the negotiations, which would also mean that by the end of the year, we hope to confirm a working 2018 schedule.”

Terms of the final contract could also update ESA’s cost estimate for the ExoMars program, which currently stands at 1.2 billion euros ($1.35 billion). That covers ESA’s costs for the 2016 and 2018 launches, not including contributions from ESA member states and international partners.

“Our estimated target cost (for both missions) is still 1.2 billion euros ($1.35 billion), but we still don’t have the final industrial proposal for the ’18 mission. It’s still an estimated cost, but this is the order of magnitude.”

The space agency has struggled to secure funds to meet the 1.2 billion euro cost projection. While the 2016 launch has been on secure financial footing for several years, the 2018 rover mission still faced a funding shortfall after a ministerial-level meeting of ESA member states in December 2014.




ESA partnered with Russia to keep the ExoMars mission on track for launches 2016 and 2018 after NASA pulled out of the project in 2012.

The ExoMars rover carries payloads to detect organic molecules — the building blocks of life — and a drill to collect subsurface samples.

Roscosmos — the Russian space agency — is providing two Proton rockets for the launches, a descent module to carry the ExoMars rover through the Martian atmosphere, sensors on the rover, and a water-sniffing detector and atmospheric chemistry instruments for the ExoMars 2016 orbiter.

The ExoMars 2016 mission consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter, a 4.1-ton (3,732-kilogram) spacecraft with sensors to map Mars landing sites and detect trace constituents in the Martian atmosphere like methane, which could indicate ongoing biological or geological activity.

A entry, descent and landing demonstrator named Schiaparelli will accompany the Trace Gas Orbiter to Mars, separating a few days before arrival for a touchdown in Meridiani Planum, a broad equatorial plain near the region being explored by NASA’s Opportunity rover.

The Trace Gas Orbiter’s prime science mission will last one Martian year — about two Earth years — and is expected to provide data relay services for the 2018 ExoMars rover and NASA’s Mars landers well into the 2020s from an orbit about 250 miles, or 400 kilometers, in altitude. NASA has provided Electra two-way radios for the ExoMars orbiter to relay telemetry and commands between Earth and assets on the Martian surface.

The orbiter/lander combo is set for launch March 14 after a joint ESA-Roscosmos steering board approved a two-month delay Sept. 24, de Groot said.


more data at the link....


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Europe helps Russia get banned US electronics for ExoMars project


MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. Russia has run into difficulties as regards the obtaining US-made component parts for its research equipment to be used in the ExoMars inter-planetary project, the launch of which has been scheduled for 2016, Oleg Korablyov, a Deputy Director General of the Space Research Institute in charge of materiel for ExoMars told reporters on Wednesday.

"The sanctions have had a strong impact on us, since we didn’t manage to buy some component parts (of US manufacture) for ExoMars," he said, admitting along with it that the Russian side had bought the bulk of the elements needed during the 2016 mission in advance.

The Space Research Institute got assistance from the European Space Agency in securing delivery of components from the US, Korablyov said. "Special lists were compiled and they [Europeans] helped us. It was a timely assistance," he said.

For the 2018 mission, Russian researchers plan to do without foreign equipment by using import substitution. "This is a very complicated activity because it often makes the manufacturing process longer and more expensive," Korablyov said.

Earlier reports indicated that a joint Russian-European orbital probe is to start off towards Mars in 2016 and a landing probe with a robot rover is to be launched in 2018.




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Cure: get the hell out of Ukraine, and quit intimidating the Eastern European and Nordic states. 

Russia had their chance to join NATO and blew it off, favoring their current confrontational path instead. Actions have consequences.

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Doc, when it comes to Space & Science stuff we're usually on the same page (or at least reading the same book). This instance, however, I must disagree with you, and I really feel like I need to speak up.

We, collectively known as the United States of America, in my personal view, have no business being involved in the Geopolitics of Eastern Europe, or any other part of Europe. That includes Russia. We have absolutely no business orchestrating armed, populist uprisings against the legitimate government in any Nation in the world. And yes, I am saying exactly what it looks like I'm saying. When is enough enough? That part of the world is Russia and Europe's Sphere of Influence, just as Asia is China and India's Sphere of Influence. We've got no business there. Period. We've never had any business there, other than to poke Russia in the eye and say it was rain. That's all it's ever been about. And Russia was, to my knowledge, never invited to join NATO. They were always the "oddball out".

Russia occupied that peninsula because they have a strategically important Naval Base there -- perhaps second in importance only to Poliovny -- that services ALL of the Middle East and Indian Ocean Fleets. It was as if an armed uprising took place in Hawaii -- do you think that we'd sit by and let Pearl Harbor be overrun by Rebels? NO WAY.

I know you care about what happens, bud -- I do too -- but Russia isn't the bad guy in this equation. They did the same thing we'd do, and we'd be calling it "defending our National Security". But if Russia does it, it's some sort of "aggressive action". Double standards at their finest. How's all of that been working out for us? So far, the only productive thing I've seen from any of it worldwide is that we're a damned laughingstock, because we keep backing the wrong sides. ISIL/ISIS, whomever it was that took over the Ukraine (now in a nasty Civil War), Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan's pretty much overrun now, Saudi Arabia's lost 1/4 of their territory, Iraq's completely lost ... Northern Africa too. Even Turkey is having problems. Yeah, it's worked out really well for us.

Only thing we seem to be good at anymore is screwing things up more than they were when we got there. Thanks to the past two Administrations, the U.S. now has ZERO credibility and even LESS capacity to actually get anything done.

Russia's problem now is which mess to clean up first, since they seem to be the only ones in a position to actually do something about them.

Do I seem angry enough? GOOD -- WE ALL SHOULD BE. But I'm not blindly "patriotic" -- I know when we're in the wrong, and we've been wrong since we invaded Iraq looking for those mysterious WMD's that never turned up.

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This all started when Ukraine wanted to join the EU. The US has treaties with EU, and NATO which most EU countries belong to,  so when Russia invaded and EU protested we backed their play.  That makes it US business.

Aslo, Russia and NTO, they joined in the Russia-NATO Council in 2001 and in 2010 the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATOIvo Daalder suggested Russia joining NATO. Before that representatives from European countries including Germany also suggested it.

Russia's response from Rozogin: "Great nations don't join coalitions, they create them. Russia is a great nation"

Yeah, right. Whatever.


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Now that things have simmered....

Politics...and Religion........HAVE no place in Science....Period

And I am a veteran, when I say....It's the 21st century, people should be fighting to rid themselves of poor government...not each other.

Back to science, and science only.......:D


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ExoMars Mission Will Arrive on Time, Despite Hiccup

Artist's impression of the ExoMars 2016 mission, including the Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli, a small landing demonstrator module. 
Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab

Earlier this month, the ExoMars launch date was pushed back by a couple of months. Instead of launching in January 2016, the European mission will launch the following March -- but still get to Mars at nearly the same time. How is this possible?

The 2016 portion of the ExoMars mission  is composed of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), a satellite that will examine the composition of Mars' atmosphere, and a small lander called Schiaparelli that will test landing technologies. It's a technical problem with Schiaparelli that is causing the holdup, specifically focused around two measurement devices that monitor how fuel is being pressurized during landing. [Europe's ExoMars Mission in Pictures]

"Recently the manufacturer (Moog Bradford) was looking into their past manufacturing records and various data, and they’ve discovered, based on some tests, that the process isn’t what it should have been. They could have cracks in the devices," Don McCoy, ExoMars project manager, told Discovery News.

The devices are not required for the landing, but just collect more data, he added; hence the decision to take them out.

While the discovery was unexpected, the ExoMars team built some "slack" into the schedule for problems, McCoy said. Mars and Earth will move closer together between the prime launch window in January (7th to 27th) and the new launch window in March (14th to 25th). It is probable that ExoMars will need to fire its engine longer (burning more fuel), after it loops around the sun, to arrive there as planned in October 2016.

The potential cracks could have caused a fuel leak and as such, the measurement devices were removed completely in a process that took about three weeks (including disassembling the spacecraft, carefully removing the devices and doing checks, and reassembling).

There are several other missions that were supposed to use these devices; McCoy didn't specify which missions, but said these missions were not as developed as ExoMars and it will be easier to deal with the problem.

After arrival, the TGO will remain at Mars to serve as a communications relay for the ExoMars 2018 rover, and has a prime mission of five years. Schiaparelli is expected to land in Meridani Planum roughly three days before TGO arrives at Mars. It will only operate for a short time on the surface before its batteries die.


So far, she'll be ready for March2016.....:)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Landing Site Recommendation For ExoMars 2018


Exomars Landing Site    ESA

Oxia Planum has been recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission.

ExoMars 2018, comprising a rover and surface platform, is the second of two missions making up the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia's Roscosmos. Launch is planned for May 2018, with touchdown on the Red Planet in January 2019.

Meanwhile, the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module will be launched in March 2016, arriving at Mars around this time next year.

Schiaparelli will land in Meridiani Planum. The orbiter will study the atmosphere and act as a relay for the second mission.

The search for a suitable landing site for the second mission began in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidates. In October 2014, the Landing Site Selection Working Group chose four sites. The last year has been spent evaluating these sites, taking into account the engineering constraints of descent and landing, and the best possible scientific return of the mission

The main goal for the rover is to search for evidence of martian life, past or present, in an area with ancient rocks where liquid water was once abundant. A drill is capable of extracting samples from up to 2 m below the surface. This is crucial, because the present surface of Mars is a hostile place for living organisms owing to the harsh solar and cosmic radiation. By searching underground, the rover has more chance of finding preserved evidence.

Scientists believe that primitive life could have gained a foothold when the surface environment was wetter, more than 3.6 billion years ago. Buried or recently exhumed layered sedimentary deposits thus offer the best window into this important period of Mars history.

All four sites under study Aram Dorsum, Hypanis Vallis, Mawrth Vallis and Oxia Planum show evidence of having been influenced by water in the past, and are likely representative of global processes operating in the Red Planet's early history.

All locations offer the opportunity of landing at a scientifically interesting site or finding one within a 1 km drive from the touchdown point, with numerous targets accessible along a typical 2 km traverse planned for the mission of 218 martian days (each 24 hours 37 minutes).


Larger map...7.26 Mb jpeg, download site for map

Now we can take our time and analyse this site with our tools, from earlier posts, in this thread....:woot:

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Oxia Planum ... interesting that they'd choose those locations.

Oxia Planum (18.25°N x 335.5°E, roughly): Elevation -3100 m (varies slightly but not dramatically). Part of the ancient Ocean Floor of Mars, pretty much guaranteed to see the same stuff as Opportunity did. It's a "safe landing site", and probably nothing extraordinary there. The low latitude will help with lander temperatures quite substantially.

(Image 1) http://i1.wp.com/www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ExoMars_2018_landing_site_candidates_node_full_image_2.png

(Image 2) http://i1.wp.com/www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ESP_037070_1985.jpg

(Image 3) http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/660/media/images/73818000/jpg/_73818426_mars_landing_map_624.jpg

(Image 4 - The Oxia Planum area) http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA19851_modest.jpg

Meridiani Planum (located at 0°12′N 357°30′E / 0.2°N 357.5°E): Elevation -2100 ~ -2500 m (varies dramatically). The low latitude will also help with lander temperatures quite substantially, even more so than at Oxia.

(Image 1 - Meridiani Planum Region - Topology and Mineralogy) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Meridiani_Planum_PIA13704.jpg

(Image 2 - Meridiani Planum Map) http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/news/images/20080918a/Miyamoto_ellipse2.jpg

(Image 3 - Meridiani Planum "Hematite Sites") http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/mer2003/topsites/final/Hematite/maps/Hematite_small.jpg

In my opinion, this would be the far more interesting LZ of the two sites, especially if they land near the South Delta where the ancient riverbed is. :D

Edited by BetaguyGZT
Added more info!
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