The ExoMars mission has the objective of sending an exploration vehicle to Mars to discover possible traces of life. It is the first robotised exploration mission developed within the European Aurora programme. This programme consists in creating and developing missions for the robotic and human exploration of the solar system.
An orbiter and stationary lander are planned for 2016 and a Russian rover for 2018.
Objectives of the mission
Exobiological studies will be carried out by analysing samples for signs of past or present life on Mars. The secondary objectives will be to identify the potential hazards on the surface for future manned missions, to determine the distribution of water on Mars and to measure the chemical composition of the surface rocks. ExoMars is one of the most important solar system exploration missions with 14 countries involved at various levels.
The components of the programme.
An ExoMars platform will support the vehicle that will enter the atmosphere, descending and landing on Mars. This vehicle will contain a 200 kg rover and a fixed station for geophysical analyses. The solar powered vehicle will spend several months on Mars, travelling several kilometres over the rocky landscape. The signals between Earth and the vehicle will be relayed by a satellite in orbit around Mars.
The ExoMars vehicle will be able to bore down to 2 metres below the surface, take and analyse rock samples, search for water and study the local weather.
Exploratory concept of the ExoMars probe