ExoMars 2020 has passed a number of milestones. The European carrier module was delivered in March. The European rover, which contains nine instruments, has been assembled by Airbus UK and is under environmental testing in Toulouse. It should be integrated with the spacecraft by the end of the year. The spacecraft is now in the Thales Alenia Space test facilities in Cannes to start the environmental and performance verification test campaign that will last until February 2020.
However, there remain some important challenges ahead for the parachute system of the descent module. Recent balloon high-altitude drop tests were unsuccessful. As a result, the next and final two drop tests, scheduled between January and March 2020, must be fully successful otherwise the mission cannot launch in 2020.
The joint ESA and Russian mission consists of four elements: a carrier module to propel the spacecraft to Mars, a descent module, a surface science platform and the Rosalind Franklin rover, which will use its drill up to depths of two meters to search for signs of life.
This film contains an interview with ESA’s ExoMars programme team leader Francois Spoto.