Testing ExoMars technology in Martian gravity
7 June 2011When Europe's 'Zero-G' Airbus takes to the air today it will be carrying technology developed for ExoMars. A part of the distribution system designed to transport Martian soil samples collected by the drill to the instruments inside the ExoMars rover will be tested in conditions simulating Martian gravity.
This ExoMars element is a passenger on Europe’s ‘Zero-G’ Airbus, which will perform the first parabolic flight campaign dedicated to research in 'partial' gravity.
The Airbus A300, owned by Novespace, will perform a series of flights over the next three days to cover a wide range of research in full weightlessness. For the first time, the flights will also simulate lunar (0.16 g) and Martian (0.4 g) gravity conditions.
Engineers from the ExoMars programme will use these ideal conditions for the mission’s preparations to test the distribution system. The purpose of these tests is to characterise its behaviour under these special gravity conditions. Tests will be carried out using representative types of stone, such as basalt and limestone.
The Joint European Partial-g Parabolic Flight campaign is an unprecedented research mission organised jointly by ESA and the French and German space agencies, CNES and DLR. Each agency will perform four experiments, with an extra one devoted to ExoMars.
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