MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will create a landing deck and provide a range of unique scientific equipment for a new Russian-European Mars mission known as ExoMars, Daniel Rodionov, a Russian scientific supervisor for the project, said at the COSPAR international scientific assembly in Moscow.
Rodionov added that in addition to launch vehicles and scientific gear, Russia will also produce a landing deck for the ExoMars-2018 mission.
A Russian landing pad and a 660 pound-Mars rover vehicle designed by the European Space Agency (ESA), will be taken to Mars’ surface by Russia’s Lavochkin Research and Production Association’s descent module.
The project’s first stage, the “ExoMars-2016,” mission includes an orbit module developed by ESA and a demonstrational descent module. An on-orbit Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is to conduct research on trace gases in the atmosphere and ice distribution in the soil. The Russian Space Research Institute (RSRI) is devising two instruments for TGO: the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS) spectrometric compass and the Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND).
The ACS is being designed to analyze the Martian atmosphere and climate. The ACS has three spectrometers and an information gathering system. The FREND registers albedo neutrons that occur in the soil of Mars, triggered by galactic and solar cosmic rays and also constructs high-resolution global ice distribution maps of Mars’ top soil. FREND also has a dose metering module.
Both ACS and FREND are now in the final stage of construction and are to be handed over to the European team at the end of 2014 in order to place them on the TGO orbiter.
The main tasks of the Mars rover vehicle are a geological study of the planet and the search for traces of life in the planet’s subsurface around the landing area. The Russian Space Research Institute is developing the Infrared Spectrometer for ExoMars (ISEM) and ADRON-RM devices for the vehicle. Installed in the pole of the rover, the ISEM carries out mineralogical analysis of the surface. Neutron detector ADRON-RM registers the neutron albedo generated in the soil by cosmic rays and compiles a map of local ice distribution along the path of the Mars rover.
After the rover descends from the Russian landing pad, the latter will monitor various time scales, such as days, seasons and years, on the surface of Mars. The rover is scheduled to function for one Martian Year on the surface, which equates to approximately 1.8 Earth years.