Tagged: ESA ExoMars Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 6:29 am on April 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA ExoMars   

    From ESA: “ExoMars Rover” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency


    Title ExoMars rover
    Released 27/03/2017 9:00 am
    Copyright ESA/ATG medialab

    ESA’s ExoMars rover (foreground) and Russia’s stationary surface science platform (background) are scheduled for launch in July 2020, arriving at Mars in March 2021. The Trace Gas Orbiter, which has been at Mars since October 2016, will act as a relay station for the mission, as well as conducting its own science mission.


    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    Choosing the rover’s landing site is a demanding and lengthy process, because it must not only be interesting scientifically but also safe from an engineering viewpoint.

    Establishing whether life ever existed on Mars is at the heart of the ExoMars programme, thus the chosen site should be ancient – around 3.9 billion years old – with abundant evidence of water having been present for extended periods.

    The rover has a drill (the dark grey box at the front in the view above) that is capable of extracting samples from depths of 2 m. 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.

    From an engineering perspective, the site has to be low-lying, to allow the entry module to descend through enough atmosphere to help slow its descent with parachutes, and it must not contain features that could endanger the landing, such as craters, steep slopes and large rocks.

    Checking that all of these requirements are met takes many experts and many years.

    In this case, it began in 2013, with eight proposals put forward and subsequently down-selected to four sites in 2014.

    By late 2015, one site – Oxia Planum – had been recommended as the primary focus for further detailed evaluation, with two other sites retained for discussion at a later date. That later date has arrived, and experts will this week decide whether it will be Aram Dorsum or Mawrth Vallis that will also be put forward to study in further detail.

    2
    Oxia Planum

    3
    Aram Dorsum

    4
    Mawrth Vallis

    Following the decision, an announcement will be posted on the ESA website. Confirmation of the primary landing site and the backup will occur only about a year before launch.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

    Advertisements
     
  • richardmitnick 10:56 am on December 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars,   

    From ESA: “First views of Mars show potential for ESA’s new orbiter” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    29 November 2016
    Håkan Svedhem
    ESA ExoMars TGO Project Scientist
    Email: hakan.svedhem@esa.int

    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    ESA’s new ExoMars orbiter has tested its suite of instruments in orbit for the first time, hinting at a great potential for future observations.


    Access mp4 video here .

    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars

    The Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, a joint endeavour between ESA and Roscosmos, arrived at Mars on 19 October. Its elliptical orbit takes it from 230–310 km above the surface to around 98 000 km every 4.2 days.

    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    It spent the last two orbits during 20–28 November testing its four science instruments for the first time since arrival, and making important calibration measurements.

    2
    First look at the atmosphere. Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/ExoMars/NOMAD/BISA/IAA/INAF/OU

    Data from the first orbit has been made available for this release to illustrate the range of observations to be expected once the craft arrives into its near-circular 400 km-altitude orbit late next year.

    TGO’s main goal is to make a detailed inventory of rare gases that make up less than 1% of the atmosphere’s volume, including methane, water vapour, nitrogen dioxide and acetylene.

    Of high interest is methane, which on Earth is produced primarily by biological activity, and to a smaller extent by geological processes such as some hydrothermal reactions.

    The two instruments tasked with this role have now demonstrated they can take highly sensitive spectra of the atmosphere. During the test observations last week, the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite focused on carbon dioxide, which makes up a large volume of the planet’s atmosphere, while the Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery instrument homed in on water.

    They also coordinated observations with ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, as they will in the future.

    ESA/Mars Express Orbiter
    ESA/Mars Express Orbiter

    NASA/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
    NASA/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

    Complementary measurements by the orbiter’s neutron detector, FREND, will measure the flow of neutrons from the planet’s surface. Created by the impact of cosmic rays, the way in which they are emitted and their speed on arriving at TGO points to the composition of the surface layer, in particular to water or ice just below the surface.

    The instrument has been active at various times during the cruise to Mars and on recent occasions while flying close to the surface could identify the relative difference between regions of known higher and lower neutron flux, although it will take several months to produce statistically significant results.

    Similarly, the instrument showed a clear increase in neutron detections when close to Mars compared to when it was further away.

    The different capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System were also demonstrated, with 11 images captured during the first close flyby on 22 November.

    At closest approach the spacecraft was 235 km from the surface, and flying over the Hebes Chasma region, just north of the Valles Marineris canyon system. These are some of the closest images that will ever be taken of the planet by TGO, given that the spacecraft’s final orbit will be at around 400 km altitude.

    The camera team also completed a quick first test of producing a 3D reconstruction of a region in Noctis Labyrinthus, from a stereo pair of images.

    4
    First ExoMars stereo reconstruction. Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/ExoMars/CaSSIS/UniBE

    Although the images are impressively sharp, data collected during this test period will help to improve the camera’s onboard software as well as the quality of the images after processing.

    “We are extremely happy and proud to see that all the instruments are working so well in the Mars environment, and this first impression gives a fantastic preview of what’s to come when we start collecting data for real at the end of next year,” says Håkan Svedhem, ESA’s TGO Project Scientist.

    “Not only is the spacecraft itself clearly performing well, but I am delighted to see the various teams working together so effectively in order to give us this impressive insight.

    “We have identified areas that can be fine-tuned well in advance of the main science mission, and we look forward to seeing what this amazing science orbiter will do in the future.”

    5
    ExoMars science orbit 1. Credit: ESA

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 8:13 am on October 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars, ,   

    From ESA: “What to expect from Schiaparelli’s camera” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    12 October 2016
    Detlef Koschny
    DECA team leader, ESA
    Email: detlef.koschny@esa.int

    Elliot Sefton-Nash
    ESA planetary scientist
    Email: esefton@cosmos.esa.int

    Markus Bauer








    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer









    Tel: +31 71 565 6799









    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954









    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA/ExoMars Schiaparelli module
    ESA/ExoMars Schiaparelli module

    1
    Simulating Schiaparelli’s descent camera view

    As the ExoMars Schiaparelli module descends onto Mars on 19 October it will capture 15 images of the approaching surface. Scientists have simulated the view we can expect to see from the descent camera.

    Schiaparelli will separate from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, on 16 October, with some six million km still to travel before entering the atmosphere of Mars at 14:42 GMT three days later.

    Its descent will take just under six minutes, using a heatshield, parachute, thrusters and a crushable structure for the landing.

    Schiaparelli is primarily a technology demonstrator to test entry, descent and landing technologies for future missions and is therefore designed to operate for a only few days.

    The small surface science package will take readings of the atmosphere, but there is no scientific camera like those found on other landers or rovers – including the ExoMars rover that is planned for launch in 2020.

    The lander does, however, carry ESA’s small, 0.6 kg technical camera, a refurbished spare flight model of the Visual Monitoring Camera flown on ESA’s Herschel/Planck spacecraft to image the separation of the two craft after their joint launch.

    2
    The Planck-Sylda composite seen receding from Herschel after separation

    3
    Simulated view of Schiaparelli’s descent images

    Its role is to capture 15 black and white images during the descent that will be used to help reconstruct the module’s trajectory and its motion, as well giving context information for the final touchdown site.

    The wide, 60º field-of-view will deliver a broad look at the landscape below, to maximise the chances of seeing features that will help to pinpoint the landing site and reveal Schiaparelli’s attitude and position during descent.

    The camera will start taking images around a minute after Schiaparelli’s front shield is jettisoned, when the module is predicted to be about 3 km above the surface. This will result in images covering about 17 sq km on the surface.

    4
    Schiaparelli’s camera sequence

    The images will be taken at 1.5 s intervals, ending at an altitude of about 1.5 km, covering an area of roughly 4.6 sq km.

    Then, at an altitude of about 1.2 km, the parachute and rear cover will be jettisoned, and the thrusters ignited. The thrusters will cut out just 2 m above the surface, with the module’s crushable structure absorbing the force of impact.

    Schiaparelli will target the centre of a 100 km x 15 km landing ellipse, in a relatively flat area in Meridiani Planum, close to the equator in the southern hemisphere. This region has been imaged extensively from orbit, including by ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    ESA/Mars Express Orbiter
    ESA/Mars Express

    NASA/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
    NASA/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

    To plan for analysing Schiaparelli’s descent, thousands of simulations were made varying the atmospheric conditions and the flight path to the surface. From one such simulation, which touched down at the centre of the landing ellipse, simulated images were then made using data from NASA’s orbiter covering the Meridiani region, as shown here.

    In reality, the altitudes at which images are actually taken may vary somewhat, depending on the atmospheric conditions, the final path through the atmosphere and the speed at which Schiaparelli descends.

    The real images taken on 19 October will be stored in Schiaparelli’s memory before being beamed up to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and downlinked to Earth on 20 October.

    5
    Schiaparelli descent imaging in context

    ExoMars is a cooperative project between ESA and Roscosmos. It comprises two missions: the Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, which were launched on 14 March 2016, and the ExoMars rover and surface platform, scheduled for launch in 2020.

    The first of the real images taken by DECA during Schiaparelli’s descent to the surface on 19 October, are expected to be presented during a press briefing on the morning of 20 October, along with other information confirming the status of the lander, and published on our ESA web channels.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 8:59 am on October 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA ExoMars, , ,   

    From Science Alert: “Two space agencies will attempt an historic landing on Mars next week” 

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    11 OCT 2016
    BEC CREW

    1
    ESA

    Mark your calendars!

    The European Space Agency has teamed up with Russia’s Roscosmos program to land a spacecraft on Mars on Wednesday, October 19.

    If they stick the landing, they’ll join NASA as the only space agencies in history to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars (minus the failed Mars 3 probe). And that will only be the beginning – the lander will then start a whole new quest to search for signs of life on the Red Planet.

    If the landing is a success, it will actually see the agencies put one spacecraft up into Mars’s atmosphere, and one onto its surface, giving scientists a rare opportunity to record conditions above and below the planet simultaneously.

    The plan is this: on October 16, the joint Russian-European ExoMars spacecraft will break off into two bits – the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), and the Schiaparelli lander.

    The orbiter has the easy job – it just gets to fly off into Mars’s orbit. The Schiaparelli lander, on the other hand, has three days to prepare for the perfect landing.

    That involves using an onboard radar to measure Schiaparelli’s height above the surface of the Red Planet, starting at about 7 km, and then kicking its landing apparatuses into gear at about 2 metres above the surface.

    At this point, it will need to eject its front and back aeroshells – rigid, heat-shielded shells that protect spacecraft from the pressure, heat, and debris of space travel – operate its descent sensors, and deploy the braking parachute.

    Three groups of thrusters using a propellant called hydrazine will also need to be activated to control the lander’s touchdown speed.

    If that sounds like it’s going to be incredibly tricky to pull off… you bet it is. As the European Space Agency’s Orbiter flight director, Michel Denis, explains, just uploading the instructions to the ExoMars spacecraft was an achievement on its own.

    “Uploading the command sequences is a milestone that was achieved following a great deal of intense cooperation between the mission control team and industry specialists,” he said.

    That means mission control will have no power over the landing – it’s all going to be executed by a computer onboard the spacecraft, which will make for a seriously nail-biting final showdown between Schiaparelli and the cold, hard surface of Mars next Wednesday.

    “The entire sequence is pre-programmed, and Schiaparelli only has one shot,” Maddie Stone reports for Gizmodo. “There are no do-overs should anything go wrong.”

    That means if the lander gets the angles even slightly wrong, it will either start to free-fall too fast, and burn up in Mars’s atmosphere, or it’ll bounce off the atmosphere and back into space.

    The Russians and the Europeans have both tried to achieve Mars landings separately in the past, and each time it’s ended in disaster. But while they don’t have a great track record at this kind of thing alone, maybe they can achieve it together?

    The ExoMars mission has been split into two parts – the first is next week’s historic landing (hopefully), and the second is scheduled for 2020, when a Roscosmos-built lander called the ExoMars 2020 surface platform will deliver the ESA-built ExoMars Rover to the Martian surface.

    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA ExoMars Schiaparelli module
    ESA/ExoMars Schiaparelli module

    So if all goes well, we’ll have two new rovers on the Mars surface within the next four years. If there really are signs of life hiding somewhere on the Red Planet, it’s up to these little robots to find it.

    The landing has been scheduled for 2:48pm GMT on Wednesday, October 19 (That’s 4:48pm CEST or 10:48am EDT on Wednesday, or 1:48am AEST on Thursday). Check back on our Facebook page to find out where to watch the livestream as it happens.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 11:46 am on March 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars,   

    From ESA: “ExoMars performing flawlessly” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    23 March 2016

    ESA/ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars

    Following a spectacular liftoff, ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is performing flawlessly en route to the Red Planet.

    The ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator are well on their way following the 14 March launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

    After a raucous 10 minute ascent, the three-stage Proton-M rocket delivered the Breeze-M upper stage and its ExoMars payload into an initial parking orbit.

    Following four crucial engine burns in the next 10 hours, Breeze-M released ExoMars into its interplanetary path to Mars, achieving a departure speed accurate to within just 1.5 m/s.

    “We had an extremely precise orbital injection thanks to Proton–Breeze and our Russian colleagues, and we are now well on our way to Mars,” says ESA flight director Michel Denis.

    “After the critical first few days in space, TGO is performing flawlessly. Over the next two weeks we will continue to check and commission its systems, including the power, communications, startrackers, and guidance and navigation system.”

    Schiaparelli, which is hitching a ride to Mars with TGO, will also be thoroughly checked in the coming weeks.

    Starting in April, the ExoMars team at ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, will work with the science teams to start switching on and commissioning the craft’s scientific instruments.

    NASA’s Electra radio relay will also be switched on and checked next month.

    In June, the science control centre at ESA’s establishment near Madrid, Spain, will start working with the instrument teams at their various institutes, and the Roscosmos science operations centre, to perform a mid-cruise checkout of TGO’s instruments.

    In the only problem seen so far, the team noted some hours after establishing a communication link that the temperature of the main engine, to be used later during the cruise and at Mars arrival, had started to rise more than expected.

    In consultations with engineers from Thales Alenia Space France, TGO’s prime contractor, it was determined that simply adjusting the craft’s orientation in space by a few degrees so that the engine nozzle was no longer directly facing the Sun would do the trick. It did.

    “It’s obvious that the European industry who built ExoMars has done an excellent job,” says Michel.

    By Thursday evening, 17 March, the mission control team had declared the ‘Launch and Early Orbit Phase’ – one of the most critical periods in any mission’s life – complete, and finished work in the main control room in Darmstadt.

    From now on, routine operations will be handled from a smaller room, where space and facilities will be shared with other interplanetary missions.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 3:03 pm on March 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars, ,   

    From JPL: “Europe’s New Mars Mission Bringing NASA Radios Along” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    March 14, 2016
    Guy Webster
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6278
    guy.w.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    NASA Electra UHF relay radios
    The European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched on March 14, 2016, carries two Electra UHF relay radios provided by NASA. This image shows a step in installation and testing of one of those radios, inside a clean room at Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, in June 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/TAS

    ESA ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars

    Two NASA radios aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars mission that launched today are engineered to provide communication relay service for rovers and landers on Mars.

    ESA’s ExoMars 2016 mission, combining the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) with the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator, began a seven-month journey to Mars with today’s launch from Kazakhstan.

    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    Trace Gas Orbiter

    ESA Schiaparelli
    Schiaparelli landing demonstrator

    The twin Electra UHF (ultra-high frequency) radios from NASA are slated for a first in-flight test in about six weeks.

    “This partnership with Europe will strengthen and extend the existing infrastructure at the Red Planet for orbiters to support assets on the surface,” said Phillip Barela of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, project manager for NASA’s participation in ExoMars.

    NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars that will include sending humans to the Red Planet. Current and future robotic spacecraft are leading the way and will prepare an infrastructure in advance for human missions.

    TGO’s Electra radios use a design from JPL with special features for relaying data from a rover or stationary lander to an orbiter passing overhead. Relay of information from Mars-surface craft to Mars orbiters, then from Mars orbit to Earth, enables receiving much more data from the surface missions than would otherwise be possible.

    As an example of Electra capabilities, during a relay session between an Electra on the surface and one on an orbiter, the radios can maximize data volume by actively adjusting the data rate to be slower when the orbiter is near the horizon from the surface robot’s perspective, faster when it is overhead.

    NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) already use Electra technology for relay of data. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, in orbit since 2014, also carries an Electra radio.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover
    Curiosity

    NASA Mars MAVEN
    MAVEN

    Due to improvements in the newest Electra radios and reduced interference levels compared with MRO, TGO’s relay radios are expected to have a relay signal about twice as strong as MRO’s. Compared to MAVEN’s highly elongated orbit, TGO has a planned orbit similar to MRO’s relay-favorable orbit at about 250 miles (400 kilometers) in altitude and nearly circular in shape.

    TGO’s main X-band radio will use a dish antenna 87 inches (2.2 meters) in diameter to communicate with Earth-based antenna networks operated by ESA, NASA and Russia.

    JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages NASA’s role in the ESA ExoMars program for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

    For more about the ExoMars 2016, visit:

    http://exploration.esa.int/mars/46124-mission-overview/

    For more information about NASA’s journey to Mars, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/topics/journeytomars

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 9:56 am on March 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CASSIS camera on Trace Gas Orbiter, , ESA ExoMars   

    From EPFL: “A Swiss camera is going to Mars” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    14.03.16
    Sarah Perrin

    The Trace Gas Orbiter, which will search for traces of biological life on the red planet, was launched into space this morning.

    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    The probe’s array of instruments includes a high-tech camera built at the University of Bern with the help of EPFL researchers.

    Successful takeoff! The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) was launched into space this morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and is on its way to Mars. Scheduled to reach its destination in October, it’s carrying a camera developed at the University of Bern*. Researchers from EPFL’s Space Engineering Center (eSpace) will participate in the data analysis from this instrument. They will discuss the project and present their particular contribution to it at a public talk that will be held at EPFL on Wednesday, 16 March.

    This launch is the first mission in the ExoMars program, a joint initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

    ESA ExoMars
    ESA/ExoMars spacecraft

    Its main purpose is to search for signs of present or past life on Mars. The second mission, which will land an exploration rover, is planned for 2018.

    When the TGO reaches Mars, it will go into orbit around the planet. That’s when it gets down to work: it will seek trace concentrations of gases – less than 1% – in the Martian atmosphere. It will then attempt to identify their geographical source. This is of interest because, as previous analyses have shown, the accumulation of certain chemical substances, like methane, can vary by location and season. The TGO will help expand our knowledge of the planet’s topography, which turns out to be more dynamic than once thought, in order to determine whether these fluctuations are biological or only geological in origin.

    Stereo images

    The camera that the Swiss team developed – a high resolution imaging system called CASSIS (Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) – will play a key role in this task. It will work together with the other instruments on the probe, including the NOMAD spectrometer and the FREND neutron detector, in the effort to identify geological sites.

    Sites whose features – crevasses or traces of erosion, runoff or volcanism – indicate potential sources of gas will then be analyzed in greater detail by CASSIS. The camera will take color photos using stereoscopic imaging, a process of taking photos from two different angles, and at a high resolution: better than 5 m.

    The TGO will be in a non-sun-synchronous orbit – it won’t fly over the same spot at the same time – which means that the probe will allow researchers to observe the surface of the planet at different times of day. They will be able to see various processes at work, like condensation and ice sublimation at the poles and the formation of dust devils. The data will also be used to identify landing sites for future probes.

    Researchers at EPFL’s eSpace worked mainly on the calculations for calibrating the camera as well as on algorithms for processing information provided by the stereoscopic images. “The CASSIS camera is designed to enable easy generation of digital elevation models – 3D representations of the surface,” said Anton Ivanov, the lead researcher on the project at eSpace. Together with PhD student Stepan Tulyakov, he also developed a program to precisely identify the position of photographed sites, which will supplement data obtained during previous missions.

    *The camera is a cooperation between the University of Bern, the Astronomical Observatory of Padua, and the Space Research Center in Warsaw with the support of local industries and funded by the Swiss Space Office (SSO), the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Polish Space Agency (POLSA).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:09 am on March 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars   

    From ESA: “Mission control ready for Mars launch” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    12 March 2016

    ESA ExoMars
    ExoMars

    ESA’s mission control conducted the dress rehearsal for the ExoMars launch today, an important final step in preparing the ground teams and systems for the 14 March departure to the Red Planet.

    Next Monday, the ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars 2016 mission is set to lift off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Russian Proton rocket, marking the start of a seven-month journey to the Red Planet (follow live updates; more information on ExoMars).

    Today, the ‘team of teams’ comprising the flight engineers and specialists at ESA’s ESOC control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, who will fly the ExoMars orbiter, performed the dress rehearsal, a crucial final step before any launch.

    The realistic, eight-hour practice began at 02:00 GMT (03:00 CET) to conform to the tight schedule of the Roscosmos launch team at Baikonur.

    In Darmstadt, mission controllers worked in the centre’s Main Control Room, using the actual mission control systems and ground tracking stations that will be employed on launch day and during flight, stepping through the preflight procedures while following the minute-to-minute network countdown to the moment of liftoff.

    Teams established a live data connection with TGO on top of the Proton rocket in Baikonur, and could receive telemetry and other status data from the spacecraft, which was also undergoing its own preflight software loading and countdown rehearsal.

    “Today’s rehearsal is one of the final steps in being ready to go – we do a similar dress rehearsal for every launch,” says Paolo Ferri, Head of Mission Operations.

    “It’s a milestone that caps off several years of preparation for any complex mission – designing, building and testing the ground systems, preparing the flight operations procedures and then finally an intensive period of team training.”

    Specialists from areas such as flight dynamics, ground stations, ground software and systems also took part in the rehearsal, sitting in their own control rooms and working together via voice and data loops between each other and to the launch control centre at Baikonur and the ground stations.

    Representatives from Thales Alenia Space, leading the European industrial grouping that built ExoMars and Schiaparelli, and from ESA’s ExoMars project office, also took part.

    Twelve missions in space and nine in preparation

    Readying to conduct the ExoMars mission comes at a time when ESA’s operations teams are seeing an historically high level of activity.

    Twelve missions, for a total of 17 spacecraft, are now in flight, spanning science, Earth observation, orbiting observatories and Europe’s Galileo and Copernicus programmes, while nine new missions are being prepared.

    ESA Galileo Spacecraft
    ESA Galileo Spacecraft

    ESA Sentinels (Copernicus)
    ESA Copernicus

    “In 2016, at least five new missions are expected to be launched – a record for ESOC – plus two spectacular interplanetary highlights in the autumn: ExoMars arrival at Mars, and the controlled impact of Rosetta on its comet,” says Rolf Densing, ESA’s Director for Operations and head of the ESOC centre.

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    ESA Rosetta spacecraft

    The ExoMars/TGO mission control team conducted the final pre-launch rehearsal on 12 March 2016 at ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany

    Counting down to final countdown

    Readying to conduct the ExoMars mission comes at a time when ESA’s operations teams are seeing an historically high level of activity.

    “I am very proud of the long, hard work by everyone; the ground systems are ready, the tracking stations are ready and the teams are ready for the journey to Mars.

    “We’re looking forward to a smooth launch on Monday and to an excellent start for this key mission.”

    On 14 March, lift off is set for 09:31 GMT (10:31 CET), and the orbiter is expected to send its first signals to Earth around 12 hours after launch, at 21:28 GMT (22:28 CET).

    ExoMars comprises the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator.

    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiterjpg
    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    ESA Schiaparelli
    Schiaparelli

    TGO will study atmospheric trace gases, such as methane. Schiaparelli carries sensors to evaluate the lander’s performance as it descends, and others to study the environment at the landing site.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 8:12 am on November 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars,   

    From ESA: “European payload selected for ExoMars 2018 surface platform” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    27 November 2015
    Markus Bauer

    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer

    Tel: +31 71 565 6799

    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954

    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    Jorge Vago
    ESA ExoMars 2018 project scientist
    Scientific Support Office

    Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration
    Tel: +31 71 565 5211 / +31 6 27 65 87 70
    Email: jorge.vago@esa.int

    Luigi Colangeli
    ESA Coordinator for the Scientific Programme
    Email: luigi.colangeli@esa.int

    Rolf de Groot
    ESA Coordinator for Robotic Exploration
    Email: Rolf.de.Groot@esa.int

    1
    ExoMars 2018 surface platform

    Two European instruments and four European contributions on two Russian instruments have been selected for the Russian-led science platform that will land on Mars as part of the ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars 2018 mission.

    The first of the two ExoMars mission is in final preparation for launch next March. It consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter [TGO], which will investigate the possible biological or geological origins of important trace gases in the martian atmosphere, and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module.

    ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiterjpg
    TGO

    ESA ExoMars Schiaparelli module
    Schiaparelli

    Schiaparelli will test key landing technologies and provide atmospheric and environmental data important for ESA’s contributions to subsequent missions to Mars.

    The second ExoMars mission, planned for launch in May 2018, comprises a European-led rover that will be the first to combine driving across the martian surface with drilling two metres below the surface, and a stationary surface science platform.

    After landing on Mars in 2019, the rover will descend from the platform via a ramp. Then both will begin their scientific operations.

    The platform is expected to operate for at least one Earth year, imaging the landing site, monitoring the climate, investigating the atmosphere and analysing the radiation environment.

    It will also study the distribution of any subsurface water at the landing site, and perform geophysical investigations of the internal structure of Mars.

    Roscomos and the IKI Space Research Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences had already identified a preliminary payload of instrument packages to fulfil these goals, some of which anticipated the inclusion of European elements.

    Following a call to the European scientific community issued in March 2015, nine proposals were received and assessed. ESA has now approved the selection of six European elements. This includes two fully European-led instruments, and four sensor packages to be included in two Russian-led instruments.

    The two European-led instruments proposed are the Lander Radioscience experiment (LaRa) and the Habitability, Brine Irradiation and Temperature package (HABIT).

    LaRa will reveal details of the internal structure of Mars, and will make precise measurements of the rotation and orientation of the planet by monitoring two-way Doppler frequency shifts between the surface platform and Earth.

    It will also be able to detect variations in angular momentum due to the redistribution of masses, such as the migration of ice from the polar caps to the atmosphere.

    HABIT will investigate the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, daily and seasonal variations in ground and air temperatures, and the UV radiation environment.

    The four European sensor packages in the two Russian-led instruments will monitor pressure and humidity, UV radiation and dust, the local magnetic field and plasma environment.

    2
    Oxia Planum

    “The surface science platform will serve as a long-lived stationary laboratory to monitor the local environment, which could include passing dust storms, lightning, and space weather effects,” says Jorge Vago, ESA’s ExoMars 2018 project scientist.

    “At the same time, the rover will travel several kilometres to search for traces of past life below the surface. It’s a very powerful combination of instruments.”

    Last month, the Landing Site Selection Working Group recommended the Oxia Planum region for further detailed evaluation for consideration as the primary landing site for the 2018 mission.

    A further recommendation was made to also consider Oxia Planum as one of the two candidate landing sites for the backup launch opportunity in 2020, with a second to be selected from Aram Dorsum and Mawrth Vallis.

    All three sites bear 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.

    ESA and Roscosmos will take a final decision on the landing site about six months before launch.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
  • richardmitnick 12:12 pm on November 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA ExoMars,   

    From ESA: “ExoMars prepares to leave Europe for launch site” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    25 November 2015

    1
    EDM module being installed at the top of the TGO [Trace Gas Orbiter]

    The two ExoMars spacecraft of the 2016 mission are being prepared for shipping to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ahead of their launch in March.

    A joint endeavour with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, ExoMars comprises two missions. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli make up the 2016 mission, while the 2018 mission will combine a rover and a surface science platform. Both missions will be launched on Russian Proton rockets from Baikonur.

    TGO and Schiaparelli are undergoing final preparations at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes, France, where they were today on display for media to view for the last time before they leave Europe.

    They will be shipped separately in the middle of next month, arriving at the cosmodrome on 21 and 23 December, respectively.

    2
    EDM module installed at the top of the TGO

    “It’s been a long road for ExoMars to reach this point, but we are now ready to launch in spring next year,” says Alvaro Gimenez, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

    “We are about to begin a new era of Mars exploration for Europe and our Russian partners.”

    Sergey Saveliev, Deputy General Director of Roscosmos, says: “ExoMars is a unique example of the Russian–European cooperation in deep-space exploration.

    “The mission of 2016 is just the first stage of our cooperation and, in the future, Roscosmos and ESA plan many joint projects to explore near and deep space.”

    Donato Amoroso, deputy CEO of Thales Alenia Space, notes, “For Thales Alenia Space, our lead role in the extraordinary ExoMars programme, as producer of the orbiter and the entry, descent and landing module for in situ exploration of Mars, entails huge technological and human challenges.”

    The first ExoMars is scheduled for launch on 14 March, at the start of a launch window that remains open until 25 March.

    After a cruise of almost seven months to Mars, Schiaparelli will separate from TGO on 16 October for its entry, descent and landing in the Meridani Planum region on 19 October.

    TGO, along with ESA’s Mars Express and NASA satellites already orbiting Mars, will relay data for the few days that Schiaparelli is expected to operate on its batteries.

    ESA Mars Express Orbiter
    Mars Express

    Schiaparelli is primarily a demonstrator to prove a range of technologies enabling controlled landings on Mars in future, but it also carries a small science package to analyse its local environment once on the surface.

    Meanwhile, after a series of aerobraking manoeuvres in 2017, TGO will enter orbit around Mars, from where it will take a detailed inventory of the gases in the planet’s atmosphere.

    Of special interest are the abundance and distribution of methane: its presence implies an active, current source, and TGO will help to determine whether it stems from a geological or biological source.

    3
    Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli, labelled

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: