In April of this year, the US aerospace agency NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) agreed to consider the possibility of delivering samples of the Martian soil to Earth in the framework of future missions to the Red Planet. According to the latest news, ESA has signed a contract with Airbus company for $ 5.2 million, so that the latter will develop a concept design for a new rover that will be able to collect the necessary samples of Martian soil.
The creation of the new rover will be handled by the English headquarters of Airbus, located in Stevenage. The European Space Agency chose the English division of Airbus as the developer of the new Mars rover because at the moment the company is already developing the rover, however, for another mission, ExoMars is a joint project of ESA and the Russian state corporation Roskosmos for the exploration of Mars. He should go to the Red Planet in 2021, within the second part of this space mission.
In contrast to the same rover ExoMars project, which will be equipped with many scientific tools and will perform many scientific tasks, the only task of the rover discussed today will be to collect samples of Martian soil. At the same time, he does not even have to drill the Martian surface.
For him a series of drilling will be conducted by the rover, which will go to the next planet in 2020 and will become the successor of the rover “Kyuryoshiti”, which is currently surfacing the surface of the Red Planet. After this, the Rover 2020 will collect soil samples in 30 special containers, which they then leave at various points on their route. The mars rover, developed by Airbus, will go to Mars in 2026. Having reached the destination, he will collect scattered containers with soil samples using his robotic arm.
Ben Boyers, the head of the technical team of Airbus adds:
“It will be a relatively compact rover weighing about 130 kilograms. But it will be entrusted with big tasks. The machine will have to travel long distances, most of the time working in an autonomous mode and daily independently plotting a further path of movement. ”
It is expected that the collection of all containers with samples left by the “rover 2020” from the rover collector can take about 150 days. After that, he will need to find a boarding module, along with which he will arrive on Mars. Mars rover will load all the containers into the device, after which it will take off (it will be the first take-off from Mars) and meet in orbit with a spacecraft that will take the samples back to Earth.
Of course, all this will become possible only after the specialists of both companies assess the feasibility of this project, and also the issue of developing technologies for the implementation of such a space mission will be resolved.