The Way Forward to Mars

The Way Forward to Mars

The path that ExoMars 2022 will comply with to achieve the Red Planet is about. The trajectory that can take the spacecraft from Earth to Mars in 264 days foresees a landing on the martian floor on June 10, 2023, at round 17:30 CEST (15:30 UTC). Credit: ESA

The path that ExoMars 2022 will comply with to achieve the Red Planet is about. The trajectory that can take the spacecraft from Earth to Mars in 264 days foresees a landing on the Martian floor on June 10, 2023, at round 17:30 CEST (15:30 UTC).

The climate at Mars, the kind of launcher, and the legal guidelines of physics governing the planets decided a 12-day launch window beginning on September 20, 2022.

Efficient orbital transfers, good communications, and no massive mud storms on the martian horizon make the chosen trajectory the quickest and most secure alternative.

Choosing the most effective path

When confronted with easy methods to get to Mars, European and Russian groups must juggle many elements. The mission evaluation group on the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Germany took into consideration the efficiency of Russia’s Proton launcher to determine quite a few attainable trajectories.

European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany

Once a spacecraft is launched from the rocket that enhances it into orbit, the highlight is onto the women and men controlling the mission from the principle management room of ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Credit: ESA/J. Mai

“We had several transfer trajectories to choose from and a spacecraft already built for the trip,” says Mattia Mercolino, ExoMars principal techniques engineer. “These variables imposed on us constraints linked to power, temperature thresholds, and orientation towards Earth during the first stages of the flight, among others.”

Being capable of talk with the spacecraft additionally performed a significant position.

“One of the alternatives had a longer launch window, but a worse connection with the spacecraft during the first days. This choice was too risky, especially when you want to have full control at the beginning of the mission,” explains Tiago Loureiro, ExoMars spacecraft operations supervisor.

ExoMars Timeline

Overview of the ExoMars program timeline. Credit: ESA

The remaining trajectory takes a bit longer – one week extra – and the launch sequence requires extra maneuvers, however this wasn’t solely about earthly constraints. “We needed to understand the challenges unique to our destination. Mars orbital characteristics and dust storms were crucial to our decision,” says Tiago.

Riders on the storm

Dust storms are frequent on Mars, but additionally troublesome to foretell. Seasons play a task, with stormy climate extra prone to occur through the spring and summer season within the southern hemisphere. ExoMars touchdown web site is Oxia Planum, positioned within the northern hemisphere.

Threatening global-scale mud storms are inclined to occur roughly each ten years. The most up-to-date one was in 2018.

Oxia Planum

Oxia Planum shut up. This picture was taken by MRO’s excessive decision digital camera HiRISE and exhibits a comparatively flat floor on this area. Images like these have been used within the evaluation of the varied touchdown web site candidates. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Although ExoMars will land exterior the mud storm season, a build-up of mud on the photo voltaic panels will scale back energy provide and will even power a short lived shutdown of ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover and the Russian floor platform, dubbed Kazachok.

“We went through a number of studies and tests to ensure that all systems would survive with reduced sunlight upon the late afternoon landing, and during surface operations the following weeks,” provides Tiago.

European scientists need to function the rover on Mars for so long as attainable. Rosalind Franklin can deal with regional mud storms for just a few days and with layers of advantageous mud masking its photo voltaic panels.

“A global dust storm that blankets the atmosphere for several months would most likely result in the death of the rover,” warns Jorge Vago, ESA’s ExoMars rover mission scientist.

“That is why it is so important to achieve most of the mission objectives before the problematic dust season starts,” he provides.

Earth at work

It took the groups at ESOC just a few months of labor to slender down the ultimate launch date and trajectory to Mars. “The whole challenge is fantastic – I think I have the best job in the world,” says Tiago.

“Launching a spacecraft, shooting it across the Solar System, hoping it lands in one piece, deploying it, driving it on Mars… And we will do all of this without the luxury of interacting with the spacecraft or the rover in real time,” he explains.

ExoMars Carrier Module and Surface Platform

Engineers at Thales Alenia Space Turin, Italy, work on the ExoMars provider module built-in with the Russian floor platform, dubbed Kazachok. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

Sending the primary European rover to Mars requires true teamwork. Each and each command has been fastidiously deliberate along with the Russian companions, involving a number of management facilities and nations.

ESA will management the communications between Rosalind Franklin and the Kazachok floor platform throughout their first days on Mars. As a part of the ExoMars program, the Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been circling Mars for practically 4 years, will function a knowledge relay platform to help communications.

A number of weeks after touchdown, and solely when the floor platform is secure and capable of function independently, ESA will hand over the management of Kazachok to Roscosmos.

About ExoMars

The ExoMars program is a joint endeavor between the Roscosmos State Corporation and ESA. Apart from the 2022 mission, it contains the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) launched in 2016. The TGO is already each delivering essential scientific outcomes obtained by its personal Russian and European science devices and relaying knowledge from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and InSight lander. The module can even relay the information from the ExoMars 2022 mission as soon as it arrives on Mars.

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