Most pieces of the collaboration Russian-European ExoMars rover and lander are almost ready for liftoff, but some things changed that. Due to the electronics, parachutes, and software troubles, and the coronavirus breakdown concerns, the mission got postponed until 2022.
The officials from the ESA (the European Space Agency) and Roscmos (Russia’s Space Agency) announced such unfortunate news on March 12.
Dmitry Rogozin, the director-general of the Russian space agency stated: “It is driven primarily by the need to maximize the robustness of all ExoMars systems as well as force majeure circumstances related to exacerbation of the epidemiological situation in Europe, which left our experts practically no possibility to proceed with travels to partner industries.”
ExoMars Rover and Lander Postponement Details
The ExoMars rover was expected to lift off from Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Proton rocket in July or August. But, as officials declared, lots of challenges won’t let the mission from happening this summer. Instead, the rover project is scheduled to lift off between August and October 2022.
ExoMars will target touchdown in the Oxia Planum from the northern hemisphere region of the Red Planet between April and July 2023. The most daring task for the ExoMars team would be to secure the mission’s European-developed parachutes. They should be ready to reduce the lander’s velocity during falling through the Mars’ atmosphere.
There are four parachutes, two supersonic, and two subsonic chutes will slow down ExoMars after it reaches the Red Planet’s atmosphere. The rover will discard the parachutes and light braking rockets to settle onto the Mars’ ground gradually. Unfortunately, the engineers faced parachute troubles during two high-altitude fall tests over northern Sweden back in 2019.
The help of developing further the mission will come from NASA’s JPL. A special-designed team will trace the issue to the parachute bags, according to the ESA. Mission managers, however, want to make sure the ExoMars will reach the Red Planet’s surface 100 % safely.