ExoMars rover leaves Stevenage
Posted on 14 Sep 2019 and read 1299 times
The European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover (www.esa.int
), assembled at the Airbus facility in Stevenage, left the UK at the end of August — heading for Toulouse, where it will undergo testing before delivery to Thales Alenia Space in Italy.
Named Rosalind Franklin, after the renowned English chemist and X-ray crystallographer, it will be Europe’s first planetary rover, and its mission will be to search for signs of life — past or present — on Mars.
It is equipped with a 2m drill to take samples from well below the surface, where they will have been protected from the harsh solar radiation striking the planet.
The rover also features nine instruments that will help scientists conduct a step-by-step exploration of Mars, from a panoramic scale through progressively smaller studies, concluding with the molecular identification of organic compounds.
The rover is also equipped with an autonomous navigation system developed by Airbus that will enable it to travel between sites of interest much more quickly than by being driven remotely from Earth.
Rosalind Franklin was installed in a special protective container in Stevenage before its journey to Toulouse.
The launch of the rover is scheduled for July 2020.