First successful depth drilling test for ExoMars, the mission designed for the exploration of the planet Mars with a robotic probe developed by the European Space Agency ESA and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos. The twin rover of the ESA’s Rosalind Franklin has in fact drilled and extracted samples on Earth at a depth of 1.7 meters, surpassing all previous Martian rovers, announces the European Space Agency. The collection of soil from a solid stone and its delivery to the laboratory inside the rover mark “a milestone for the ExoMars 2022 mission”, emphasizes the ESA.
Digging in the ground tests was an Italian drill, a technological jewel of Leonardo, designed and built in the Nerviano plants, in the province of Milan.
The test was carried out in Italy, at the Mars Terrain Simulator of Altec, in Turin
. Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%, is the prime contractor of the ExoMars 2022 mission and of the entire European ExoMars program that will reveal new mysteries of the red planet.
The operational scenario of the ExoMars2022 mission foresees the acquisition of samples of Martian soil up to a depth of 2 meters and their analysis on board through special spectrometric techniques both in the visible and infrared fields. The duration of the ExoMars 2022 mission will be over 200 days during which a collection of about 20 rock samples is expected. “The success of ExoMars on Earth bodes well for future exploration of Mars,” said David Parker, ESA’s Director of Human and Robotics Exploration.
To date, the maximum drilling depth reached on the Red Planet by the previous missions sent to Mars is seven centimeters while the Rosalind Franklin rover is designed for deep drilling, up to two meters, a measure considered by scientists and technologists “sufficient to guarantee access to organic materials in a good state of conservation and present on the planet for over four billion years, when conditions on the surface of Mars were more similar to those of the Earth. dawn “.
“Efficient acquisition of in-depth samples is central to ExoMars’ primary scientific goal: studying the chemical composition, and possible signs of life, of the Martian soil not subject to harmful ionizing radiation “comments Jorge Vago, scientist of the ExoMars project. The Italian drill designed for ExoMars is composed of a series of mechanisms based on a choreography automated tooling and assembly rods. “The design and construction of the drill was really complex, and this first deep drilling is an extraordinary achievement for the team,” says Pietro Baglioni, head of the rover team for ExoMars.
“Drilling hard stones to a depth of two meters on a mobile platform with wheels – and with less than 100 watts of power – is a complex operation,” explains Andrea Merlo, functional engineer of Thales Alenia Space’s ExoMars rover. On Earth, this is even more difficult because the test model has to be downloaded to recreate the weakest Martian gravity level, which is about a third of Earth’s. Simultaneously with the test announced today, the original Rosalind Franklin rover is in preparation for its flight to Mars, expected in almost a year: the ExoMars launch window will open on September 20, 2022.