Asset Publisher

Testing times for ExoMars drill

Testing times for ExoMars drill

20 September 2012

A drill that may help find well-preserved organic material from the early history of Mars is undergoing component qualification testing for ESA. Part of the ExoMars rover scheduled for launch in 2018, the drill needs to penetrate down to two metres whilst avoiding loose material distributed by the Martian wind. Samples retrieved will be analysed on board the rover. The drill under development is expected to deliver 17 different samples from a variety of soil types on Mars.

Interior view of the drill
Credit: Selex Galileo - Nerviano, IT
Assembly of drill extension rods. Credit: Selex Galileo - Nerviano, IT
Click here for more information on this video

This key technology for the mission is moving closer to flight standard with the testing of a pre-engineering qualification model. Some components have already reached the engineering qualification stage: the drill body structure, internal mechanisms (rotation, linear translation, rod magazine & rod clamps) and the three drill rods, which will be extended to penetrate the Martian subsurface. To facilitate testing, an engineering model drill tool and commercial electrical motors were used. Motors supplied by Maxon Motor are undergoing separate qualification testing and will be added to the drill for later tests.

In laboratory tests during summer 2012, the drill body and its electronics unit were connected together allowing operation of the drill using an initial version of the control software. A fully automated sequence will be programmed and tested later. Rover-level commands to the electronics unit were simulated using LabView computer software. The drill was attached to a static frame in order to perform the complete chain of functional activities, including the assembly and disassembly of the drill tool and three extension rods, and to check that all the elements were functioning properly. The drill string assembly and disassembly sequence was completed successfully.

Other tests leading towards the manufacture of the drill's qualification model in 2013 include drilling on Mars surface simulants - using different types of rocks as well as dust and sand regolith -  followed by testing in a Mars environmental chamber, where the low temperature, pressure, and CO2 atmospheric conditions of Mars will be simulated. This test, planned for December 2012, will also include the Ma_MISS instrument model (Mars Multispectral Imager for Subsurface Studies), which will image the walls of the borehole created by the drill to study Martian mineralogy and rock formation.

ExoMars rover drill model in the test laboratory
Credit: Selex Galileo - Nerviano, IT

A model with full flight standards is scheduled to undergo complete qualification testing in 2014. These tests will include functional, vibration, thermal and life (resistance and duration) testing. Following testing, the flight model will be built and integrated into ESA's ExoMars rover in December 2015.

The tests are performed by Selex Galileo (Italy), with contributions by SENER (Spain) and Technomare (Italy), under the supervision of ESA.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
17-Oct-2021 06:16 UT

ShortUrl Portlet

Shortcut URL

Images And Videos

Related Publications

Related Links

See Also