news 22-November-2017 21:22:53

Call for ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Selection

17 December 2013

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI) [on behalf of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)] invite the scientific community to propose candidate landing sites for the ExoMars 2018 mission.

The ExoMars Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG) will support ESA and Roscosmos in evaluating the proposals received, consulting with the wider scientific community, and identifying candidate site(s) for more detailed studies. The LSSWG will then formulate a recommendation to ESA and Roscosmos for the mission's landing site(s).

INTRODUCTION TO THE EXOMARS 2018 MISSION

The ExoMars Programme’s scientific objectives are:

  1. To search for signs of past and present life on Mars;
  2. To investigate the water/geochemical environment as a function of depth in the shallow subsurface;
  3. To study martian atmospheric trace gases and their sources;
  4. To characterise the surface environment.

The 2018 mission includes two science elements: a Rover and a Surface Platform. The ExoMars Rover will carry a comprehensive suite of instruments dedicated to geology and exobiology research named after Louis Pasteur. The Rover will be able to travel several kilometres searching for traces of past and present signs of life. It will do this by collecting and analysing samples from outcrops, and from the subsurface—down to 2-m depth. The very powerful combination of mobility with the ability to access locations where organic molecules can be well preserved is unique to this mission. After the Rover will have egressed, the ExoMars Surface Platform will begin its science mission to study the surface environment at the landing location.

From a science point of view, a landing site satisfying the Rover mission’s search-for-life requirements is expected to be also interesting for the Surface Platform.

For the ExoMars Rover to achieve results regarding the possible existence of signs of life, the mission has to land in a scientifically appropriate setting:

  1. The site must be ancient (older than 3.6 Ga)—from Mars’ early, habitable period: Pre- to late-Noachian (Phyllosian), possibly extending into the Hesperian;
  2. The site must show abundant morphological and mineralogical evidence for long-duration, or frequently reoccurring, aqueous activity;
  3. The site must include numerous sedimentary rock outcrops;
  4. The outcrops must be distributed over the landing ellipse to ensure that the rover can get to some of them (typical rover traverse range is a few km);
  5. The site must have little dust coverage.

PROPOSAL CONTENT

The response to this Call will be in the form of a Landing Site Proposal, not longer than six pages (A4 format, 11-pt character size), which must be compiled using the ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Proposal Guide & Template, following the instructions included therein.

SUPPORT MATERIAL

Call for ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Proposals (pdf file; 168 kB)

ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Proposal Guide & Template (pdf file; 840 kB))

ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Selection User’s manual (pdf file; 2 MB)

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION

The proposals, in PDF format (file size limit 35 MB), shall be submitted to the following e-mail address:
exomars_landing@rssd.esa.int
and must be received within Friday, 28 February 2014 (12:00 CET—noon).

SCOPE

This Call is open to the international Mars science community.

The members of the Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG) cannot propose landing sites or be part of landing site proposals.

This table presents a tentative schedule for the entire Landing Site Selection process.

Date Activity
17 December 2013

Release of Call for Landing Site Proposals.

28 February 2014 Landing Site Proposals due.
February/March 2014

Screening of candidate Landing Site proposals by LSSWG.

26-28 March 2014

First ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Selection (LSS) science workshop at ESAC, Spain.

April / May 2014

LSSWG prioritisation of candidate Landing Sites (based on science, engineering, and Planetary Protection requirements).

June 2014 Up to four top landing locations identified by LSSWG for further, more detailed study. Aim to complete prior to PDR closure.
...

Characterisation work continues. Other science conferences help to further refine findings. Aim to have at least a site certified by CDR (planned for September 2016).

October 2017

Final LSSWG recommendation to the Director of Science & Robotic Exploration and appropriate Russian authorities prior to mission's FAR.

 


Last Update: 11 October 2016

For further information please contact: RoboticExploration@esa.int

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