Elecnor Deimos participation in ExoMars Project4th Dec 2020
The ExoMars project is proof that the further humanity advances in space exploration, the more ambitious the missions become. While the first moon landing occurred in 1969, Mars still remains inaccessible. ExoMars is one of those missions that should help unveil the secrets of the red planet.
Elecnor Deimos activities: space and beyond
Elecnor Deimos, a key participant of the ExoMars mission, has been providing high-tech engineering solutions since 2001. The company specializes in:
- marine technology
- telecom and media
In addition to its homeland, Spain, the company has offices in Portugal, Great Britain, and Romania. Its strong material, technical, and financial base allows the implementation of the most ambitious projects. ExoMars is one of such initiatives.
ExoMars: the first stage
Elecnor implements its ExoMars exploration project together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).
This project aims to discover whether Mars has ever hosted life and if humanity can benefit from this desolate planet. Two missions, Exomars 2016 and Exomars 2020, were originally planned. The first was successfully implemented, however the second one has been temporarily postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first ExoMars mission included:
· space launch and payload landing on the Mars surface;
· module movement on the surface;
· access to geological environment and sampling;
· sample collection, preparation, and analysis.
Additionally, the surface of the planet was examined for signs of life’s existence. Martian atmospheric gases and changes in the aquatic and geochemical environment were studied as well.
Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) — an orbiter and a demonstration landing module — was used to accomplish these goals.
Elecnor Deimos developed and analyzed flight and navigation architecture, monitoring lander characteristics from the moment of TGO separation to landing on the Mars surface.
ExoMars: second stage
The second mission involves using a rover and a research platform. Testing began back in 2018 and was aimed at eliminating errors in equipment operation. Research mostly concerns parachute systems and crash tests. Elecnor is responsible for verifying the design and characteristics of the atmospheric phase, Attitude and Orbit Control System (AOCS), as well as Guidance, Navigation and Control System (GNC) algorithms.
In March 2020, ESA announced that the launch of the second Exomars 2020 mission is postponed to 2022 due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The agency explained that experts could not fully operate with partner industries, which prevented them from carrying out the necessary testing.
“We want to make ourselves 100% sure of a successful mission. We cannot allow ourselves any margin of error,” explained ESA CEO Jan Wörner. More verification activities will ensure a safe trip and the best scientific results on Mars”.
Even in the face of a pandemic, parachute testing continues. The test scheduled for March was postponed and successfully completed on November 9th. If the epidemiological situation allows it, the parachute system’s final tests will take place in mid-2021. If these tests prove successful, a specific launch date for ExoMars 2 will be scheduled. In the meantime, all ESA ExoMars efforts are devoted to checking the services and equipment.