The Exomars mission, a joint effort between Roscosmos and ESA faced a major stumbling block in its path to progress. The hurdle involved the failed high-altitude parachute drop test held in the previous week. The rescheduled date for the mission launch will be in the course of the astronomic window, period from 26th July- 13th August 2020 with Mars landing scheduled for March 2021.
Meanwhile teams are fine tuning faults to the parachute design. The first testing of the parachutes held previous year comprised a low altitude drop which went off successfully. The next comprehensive testing of the parachute’s deployment sequence from an altitude of 29 km damaged the parachute canopies. However, the activation of the deployment devices released from a stratospheric helium balloon went off successfully.
The preventive adaptions to the design introduced subsequent to the first failure did not give the desired results. Damages to the canopies could not be prevented during the second testing which took place on 5th August of this year.
The recovered videos, hardware and recorded telemetries are presently being evaluated to understand the fundamental cause of the anomaly. This will facilitate effective modifications to be undertaken before conducting further testing.
The objective of the emission is exploring the possibility of life on Mars. The surface science platform and rover involved in the mission are almost complete. They will be enclosed in a descent module which shall reach Mars via a carrier module. The launch shall take place from Baikonur in a Proton rocket. Two parachutes will be required for the descent module.
The next high-altitude drop test for the first parachute is scheduled for the year end and that for the second equally important parachute is slated for early 2020.
Alongside, investigation into developing extra test models of the parachute and testing its deployment sequence through ground -based simulations are being undertaken. There will also be a give and take of information at the Mars parachute specialists workshop to be held in the following month.