ExoMars Mars Mission - ESA
The ExoMars Programme
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars programme has been developed to assist in the search for evidence of past and present life on Mars and to advance technologies that can be used for future Mars sample-return missions.
The ExoMars programme is comprised of two missions, the first mission launched on March 14, 2016 and consisted of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and an Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module, known as Schiaparelli. The main objectives of this mission were to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be indicative of active biological or geological processes as well as to test key technologies in preparation for future missions to Mars.
The second mission, scheduled for 2020 will deliver a 300 kg European rover and a Russian surface platform to the surface of Mars. The ExoMars rover will travel across the Martian surface to search for signs of life. It will also collect samples with a drill and analyse them with next-generation instruments.
How will Neptec contribute?
Neptec Design Group has been contracted by Airbus Defence and Space to develop and deliver the ExoMars Cameras (EXMC). These cameras will provide eyes for the rover in the form of two stereoscopic cameras which will be used to navigate a path for the rover to follow and to help locate material for the rover to sample.
The EXMC is a stereo camera, with a mass less than 800 g, peak power consumption less than 2.5W, unprecedented accuracy over a wide temperature range, automatic distortion correction, and the ability to survive the harsh Martian environment without heaters. Neptec will provide two EXMC cameras to ESA’s ExoMars programme, one mast mounted to provide navigation and another body mounted for localisation.
The EXMC uses a global shutter, Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor, in conjunction with an efficient Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) to provide a robust and accurate means of collecting and reporting high-quality, calibrated images to the Rover Vehicle (RV) mobility algorithms for processing.
In addition to acting as a navigation and localisation camera, the EXMC has also been modified to allow its use as a sun-sensing device. When required, the EXMC can acquire a precise image of the sun to support the RV Autonomous Mobility System in determining the Rover’s absolute localisation when on the surface of Mars.
The EXMC flight models are scheduled for delivery to Airbus Defence and Space in 2018, for integration with the Rover Vehicle.
Rover Image credit ESA