Failing parachute tests could compromise Mars 2020 mission – Science

Failing parachute tests could compromise Mars 2020 mission - Science

After two failed tests on the use of the parachute to safely land the spacecraft with the robot on Mars, the European Space Agency and Roscomos, which are developing the project in partnership, are in a real race against time. The ExoMars mission has been planned for almost 10 years and is set to launch next summer in the summer of 2020, and if they cannot make the necessary parachute corrections, the mission will have to be postponed until 2022, The Verge says.

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The ExoMars mission aims to seek life on the red planet and consists of two phases. The first started in 2016 with the launch of two vehicles for Mars. The first one was placed in its orbit to test the atmospheric gases eventually generated by living organisms. The other was sent to its surface to probe the surface and test the necessary technologies that now need to be carried on in the second phase.

The second phase will be starred by the robotic rover Franklin, a space all-terrain that will be the first of its kind to combine the ability to navigate Mars but also to "pierce" it. He will take samples two meters deep, analyzing their composition, looking for signs of past life and perhaps current.

When the first phase rover landed on the Martian surface, the landing process was not entirely successful. The sensors failed some calculations, triggering the parachute too early, causing the apparatus to have a troubled landing. Since then agencies have been working to improve the system, but it seems to be difficult for technicians to handle the landing process. Of the two tests recently done, the parachutes were damaged even after being corrected. If the landing is not perfect, there is a risk of damage to the robot components.

Scientists have already planned new high altitude tests on Earth and have called in experts for a meeting in September to discuss new ideas. However, the mission will have to be launched between July 25 and August 13, 2020, otherwise the window of opportunity will be lost and will have to be postponed another two years by 2022. During this period, every two two years, Earth and Mars get closer, saving a year of travel, being the opportunity to launch the mission, which failed for the first time in 2018.

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