The ExoMars mission foresees Rosalind Franklin the rover and its surface platform Kazachok landing on the Red Planet in 2021. The rover will move across many types of terrain, collect samples with a 2 m-long drill and analyse them with instruments in its onboard laboratory.
This episode about ExoMars shows the integration of the locomotion system and the science payload to the rover in a specially designed, fit-for-purpose cleanroom at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, United Kingdom.
Mars is a primary target in the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life, past or present. There are stringent planetary protection requirements in place to make sure that ExoMars does not introduce terrestrial biological contamination to the Red Planet. ESA ensures planetary protection according to the legal obligations of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty.
Microbiological contamination is strictly controlled during the assembly of the rover. The cleanroom is amongst the cleanest places on Earth, cleaner than a standard hospital operating theatre thanks to filtered air, application of rigorous cleanliness procedures and workers who remain fully shrouded within ‘bunny suits’.
The rover spent 18 months at Stevenage before departing for Airbus Toulouse, France at the end of August, for four months of environmental testing to confirm it is ready for the conditions on Mars.