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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:32 pm 
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Location: Goosnargh, north of Preston, UK
I was interested to read of the UK's contribution to the 2018 ExoMars project on the UK Space Agency web site here.

Quote:
NASA's Mars exploration Programme Director Doug McCuistion and colleagues from NASA HQ in Washington DC and from JPL, Pasadena met with UK Space Agency officials at EADS Astrium's facility at Stevenage on June 18th to see progress on the ExoMars rover.

EADS Astrium Ltd. is leading the vehicle development under contract from the European Space Agency. The rover will be launched in 2018 by a NASA rocket and landed using a similar 'Skycrane' system to the one that will be used in 2011 for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). The ExoMars rover is part of the joint NASA/ESA Mars exploration programme agreed in 2009.

A tour of Astrium facilities revealed the range of projects underway including gravitational wave technology mission LISA Pathfinder, the billion-star mapper GAIA and the laser wind-measuring spacecraft Aeolus, all for ESA. In the 'Mars yard' a demonstration of path planning was given by Astrium's team using one of the experimental or 'breadboard' rovers built as part of the technical development programme. The visitors were impressed by progress on this challenging project.

The UK's involvement in ESA projects including ExoMars is financed and managed by the UK Space Agency.


...and on the EADS Astrium web site here:

Quote:
The ExoMars programme will see two missions travel to Mars in a joint ESA–NASA undertaking. In 2016 an ESA-led mission will consist of an orbiter to study methane and trace gases in the Martian atmosphere and an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM) to test key technologies for future missions.

In 2018 a NASA-led mission will carry two rovers to Mars, one from NASA and the other from ESA. The rovers will travel together in the same aeroshell to land at the same destination on Mars.

Astrium is developing this first European Mars rover and it will demonstrate flight and in-situ qualification of key exploration enabling technologies to support the European ambitions for future robotic and human exploration missions. The main technology demonstration objectives are:


• Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) of a large payload on the surface of Mars,
• surface mobility using a rover with a mobility range of several kilometres,
• access to sub-surface using a drill to acquire samples at depths of down to two metres,
• autonomous navigation using stereo cameras to map a 3D image of the surrounding terrain,
• automatic sample preparation and distribution for analyses of scientific experiments.


It's an interesting method of building redundancy into a programme - two rovers independently designed and built - one by NASA and one by ESA.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:15 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 12:29 pm
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Location: Goosnargh, north of Preston, UK
The UK Space agency are reporting that "Bridget" had a day out at the beach.

Quote:
The Bridget prototype rover for the ExoMars mission ‘soaked up some rays’ this week on a sunny beach in Aberystwyth. It wasn’t all fun in the sun, however, as she was put through her paces testing sophisticated hardware and software for her ‘eyes’ – the panoramic cameras that guide the Rover and will be used to investigate the Martian terrain and atmosphere, and support the other ExoMars instruments in the search for evidence of life on Mars.

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