Sat. Aug 24th, 2019

ESA’s ExoMars Parachute Test Failure Might Postpone The Mission To Mars

2 min read

ExoMars is a joint mission between the European Space Agency (also known as ESA) and the Russian Space Agency, intending to send a rover on the surface of Mars.

In recent months mission progress has been hampered by two failed tests. In May the parachute which will be attached to the rover was unable to pass an important test due to malfunctions. The parachute failed a second test last week, and in both cases, the engineers and scientists observed a damaged canopy.

Since the two agencies aim to use the parachute for the ExoMars rover, such failures are quite significant. The team leader of the mission stated during an interview that the team was disappointed by the fact that the changes introduced after the first failure weren’t as effective as they could have been. The team is now hard at work as it tries to track down the issues which led to failure, but it remains positive as an ideal launch date has been scheduled for 2020.

ESA’s ExoMars Parachute Test Failure Might Postpone The Mission To Mars

Another test has been scheduled before 2019, but time is of the essence. ExoMars should be launched during a specific window which begins on July 25th and lasts until August 13th, 2020.

The US and China plan to launch their rovers within the same timeframe, and each spacecraft will pursue a different goal. Rosalind Franklin, the rover constructed and operated by Rocosmos and ESA will explore Oxia Planum, will explore a prominent spot on the Red Planet were liquid water was present in the past.

To prevent unwanted problems, ESA has decided to collaborate with NASA. In September an assembly of parachute experts will inspect the parachutes built for ExoMars, and they may offer valuable feedback. ESA is also taking into account the possibility of creating new parachute models and the use of ground-based simulations, which could accelerate the development of a suitable solution. Landing safely on the surface remains the primary objective of the mission for now.

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