Exomars launches: Congratulations to everyone involved with the recent successful launch of first mission of the ExoMars programme.
Scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, this initial phase consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter plus an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, known as Schiaparelli.
The objective of this mission are the search for trace atmospheric gases, including methane, that would be indicative of active biological or geological processes and the test and preparation of key technologies for future missions to Mars. TRAK’s contribution was the supply of critical waveguide components for the telemetry, data and command transmitters; products that were delivered to customers in Italy, Spain and France.
The cruise phase will take around 7 months, arriving at Mars in October 2016. Three days before reaching the atmosphere of Mars, Schiaparelli will be ejected from the Orbiter towards the Red Planet and will then coast towards its destination, entering the Martian atmosphere decelerating from 21,000 kph using aerobraking and a parachute. The final breaking will be made using a thruster system before landing on the surface of the planet.
Once on the surface Schiaparelli will communicate with the Orbiter using both the Mars Express (another mission with TRAK products aboard) and from a NASA Relay Orbiter. Meanwhile the ExoMars Orbiter will be inserted into an elliptical orbit around Mars, finally settling into a circular ~400-km altitude orbit, before conducting its scientific mission. The scientific mission is expected to begin in December 2017 and will run for five years.
The Trace Gas Orbiter will also be used to relay data for the 2018 rover mission of the ExoMars programme and until the end of 2022 and TRAK is proud to announce it has been already been selected to provide identical components for the next phase of the mission.