- Title: ExoMars rover starts journey to Mars via France
- Date: 27th August 2019
- Summary: STEVENAGE, ENGLAND, UK (AUGUST 23, 2019) (REUTERS) ENGINEERS LIFTING THE EXOMARS ROVER ON A CRANE IN THE CLEAN ROOM ROVER WHEEL RISING ENGINEER OPERATING THE CRANE / CRANE REMOTE CONTROL EXOMARS ROVER SUSPENDED AIRBUS STAFF WATCHING FROM VIEWING GALLERY STAFF WATCHING / GROUND PENETRATING RADAR ON THE ROVER EXOMARS ROVER SUSPENDED FROM CRANE
- Embargoed: 10th September 2019 16:26
- Keywords: ExoMars Rover Airbus Defence and Space European Space Agency ESA Mars
- Location: STEVENAGE, ENGLAND, UK
- City: STEVENAGE, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Science,Space Exploration
- Reuters ID: LVA001ATZTAAJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: With less than a year before its launch, the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover has begun its journey to search for life on Mars, leaving the UK for final testing in France.
The rover, named the Rosalind Franklin after a British chemist who helped unravel the structure of DNA, will conduct a series of experiments on and under the surface or the red planet looking for signs of past or present life.
It will carry nine different instruments including a 2m long drill to take samples from below the surface where they will have been protected from the harsh radiation of the above ground environment.
"We think there could be organic molecules in this sort of layer of permafrost that's down there. So whereas the previous rovers have been the geologists we are very much the biologist," Paul Meacham, ExoMars rover lead engineer told Reuters.
ExoMars is a joint ESA program in cooperation with Russian Space Agency Roscosmos with contribution of NASA.
Europe's first rover has been designed and built by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK in a super clean environment.
"We don't want to accidentally detect something we brought with us because someone rubbed up against the rover or sneezed on it or something like that. So it's really important our instruments don't get a false positive and all the processes and procedures we have in place are to avoid any sort of organic contamination travelling to Mars," Meacham said.
Once it lands the rover will roll off the descent module, navigating autonomously and relaying high resolution images back to Earth for scientists to decide its next task.
"It perceives its terrain, figures out where it can and can't go and drives itself to the target where the scientists will then take over and decide what science they want to do at that particular location," Meacham said.
It will take more than eight months to reach the Red Planet after its scheduled launch next July.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None