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Inside ExoMars - Quarterly Newsletter

Inside ExoMars - Quarterly Newsletter

Issue 9 - December 2012


What’s new for this quarter:
ESA Council ratified the ExoMars cooperation agreement with Roscosmos.
Additional subscriptions to carry out work on the ExoMars 2016 and 2018 missions as planned.
Orbiter flight elements delivery and construction is progressing as scheduled.


On track for 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions

In November, the Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) approved the ExoMars agreement with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. The agreement details the cooperation on the 2016 and 2018 missions to Mars.

The international cooperation with Roscosmos for ExoMars had already advanced significantly, with many bilateral meetings between the two agencies; consensus on the basic responsibilities of each agency had been achieved. It is planned that the ExoMars agreement will be signed by both partners in the coming months.

At the Ministerial Council, ESA Member States made additional funding available to continue with the development of the 2016 and 2018 missions as planned. With this and the agreement signature imminent, the ExoMars programme is on track for its two launches in 2016 and 2018.

The Russian space agency will provide major contributions, including the descent stage for the 2018 mission, scientific instruments for both missions and the two Proton rockets to launch the ExoMars missions.


Image of the quarter:

Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano listening to the ExoMars presentation during their visit to ESA’s space research and technology centre.
Credit: G. Schoonewille

A royal and presidential visit to ESA’s technical heart

As part of the Italian State visit to the Netherlands, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano visited ESA’s space research and technology centre (ESTEC). Accompanied by the Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Maxime Verhagen, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and Franco Ongaro, Head of ESTEC, the Queen and the President were presented with an exhibition of the highlights of scientific research and technology development at ESA. As part of the exhibition, the guests were informed about the ExoMars programme and Europe’s plans for robotic exploration of Mars.


Updates on payloads and spacecraft design

A release of funds to industry until the end of the year supported the work on ExoMars. The additional subscriptions obtained at the Ministerial Council will allow continuation of work on the 2016 and 2018 missions as planned.

2016 mission

Preparations for the ground segment are proceeding and its requirements were successfully reviewed in October. A large part of the 2016 mission ground segment will also be used for the 2018 mission.

Orbiter flight elements delivery and integration is progressing. About 50% of the propulsion equipment flight models for the Orbiter have been delivered, while the propulsion engineering verification model is undergoing tests. The manufacturing of the flight model structural panels has started and the test of the central tube proto-flight model is being prepared. The functional model of the Orbiter’s on-board computer was delivered in November. This is the first building block of the Avionics Test Bench, which will allow the validation of the electrical interfaces and initial versions of the software.

All structural model elements of the Entry, descent and landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) have been manufactured and will be assembled by the end of 2012 at Thales Alenia Space Italy, in Turin. A test campaign is scheduled for the first half of 2013 and will include vibration tests to simulate the launch environment and static tests to simulate the forces that the EDM will experience during entry and parachute opening. Development and test activities for all EDM subsystems are ongoing. In particular, for the parachute system, several tests have taken place, including a wind tunnel test in supersonic flow, a drop test from a helicopter and deployment tests with the mortar.

2018 mission

The design phase (Phase B) proposal was submitted by industry in November to establish the international cooperation with Roscosmos and their primary industrial contractor, NPO Lavochkin. Several technical meetings to discuss the architecture and the responsibilities of each partner have taken place.

Rover development is proceeding as planned, particularly in the areas of the drill, the Sample Preparation and Distribution System (SPDS) and the science payload. The drill test campaign is advancing and the SPDS development is moving towards an end-to-end test of the mechanism breadboards. This will provide a verification of the overall Analytical Laboratory Drawer (ALD) concept, where the main life-seeking instruments are accommodated along with a complex in situ laboratory preparation facility.

A technical workshop was held in September at ESTEC involving ESA, industry, and scientific instrument teams (MOMA, MicrOmega, RLS) to discuss the design of the ALD and optimise the new configuration.


Save the Date

1-28 February
Near Erfoud, Morocco
Morocco 2013 Mars Analog Field Simulation
4-6 February
Los Angeles, U.S.A.
The Present Day Habitability of Mars
6-8 May
Washington, U.S.A.
Humans to Mars Summit
For more information, you can also access the complete
Events Archive



ExoMars Timeline


November ESA Council ratified the cooperation with Roscosmos
Joint start of the design phase (Phase B) of the 2018 mission by ESA and Roscosmos


April-July Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for Rover elements (including the instruments, the Analytical Laboratory Drawer, the structure and mobility system)
Orbiter Avionics Test Bench delivery
For more information, you can also access the complete
ExoMars timeline
Disclaimer: Future milestones are indicative and subject to change


To stay informed about the ExoMars activities, subscribe to our mailing list.


ESA – ExoMars Programme Don McCoy ExoMars Project Manager


Last Update: 1 September 2019
8-Dec-2021 05:33 UT

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