Paris, 9 March 2021. – Getting ready for Mars: The European Space Agency (ESA) prepares ExoMars 2022, its mission, a coproduction with Russia, to the Red Planet that is planned to depart from Baikonur in Kazakhstan in fall 2022, ESA said.
Four key hardware elements of the mission have undergone a series of tests, the agency said: the carrier and the descent module, the Kazachok surface platform that will perform science activities on the surface of Mars and the Rosalind Franklin rover that will seek for sites to drill on the Red Planet. The tests were and are conducted at Thales Alenia Space’s facilities in Cannes, France, and in Turin, Italy. The ExoMars team is also revised the parachute strategy, ESA said.
ExoMars 2022 will launch on a Proton-M rocket with a Breeze-M upper stage from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in the 20 September – 1 October 2022 launch window. It is planned to land on Mars in the Oxia Planum region on 10 June 2023. The Rosalind Franklin rover will then drive off the surface platform and seek geologically interesting sites to drill below the surface, ESA says, “to determine if life ever existed on our neighbour planet”.
The ExoMars program is a joint endeavor of ESA and Roscosmos and includes the Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been orbiting Mars since 2016 and which has already supported NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission.
The Perseverance rover performed its first drive on Mars on 4 March, advancing a couple of meters on the Martian landscape. The drive served as a mobility test, NASA said.