10 February 2014, 12:27

Russian-European spacecraft to go on Martian mission in Jan 2016

Russian-European spacecraft to go on Martian mission in Jan 2016

A spacecraft built for the Russian-European ExoMars project will begin its voyage to Mars in January 2016, Director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Zelyony said.

 "In all, there will be four stages in this project. An orbiter designed by the European Space Agency will be launched with a Russian Proton-M LV and a Briz-M upper stage in the period from January 7 to January 27, 2016.

The spacecraft will arrive in the Martian orbit in October 2016. It will be carrying a number of our and European instruments and a small craft, which will be airdropped to the planet," the scientist said.

The vehicle will spend two weeks on the planet's surface. The second stage of the mission is scheduled for 2018. "We will contribute a Proton-M launch vehicle, a Briz-M upper stage and a landing platform, which will bring a rover to Mars.

The rover will be carrying a Russian payload, too," Zelyony said. The orbiter launched in 2016 will be transmitting data from the rover to the Earth. "Initially, the orbiter will be doing measurements and after the rover and the landing platform touch down in 2018 some of the orbiter's resources will be used to transmit their data," he added.

ExoMars landing module to be disinfected with radiation

The landing module of the ExoMars Russian-European mission, which will go to Mars in 2018, will be disinfected with radiation in order not to pollute the planet with Earth life forms, a source from NPO Lavochkin said.

"Ionizing radiation will be used to sterilize the landing module the enterprise will be assembling. The Biophysics Institute possesses good techniques for doing so," the source said.

Some landing module components and equipment taken to the NPO Lavochkin clean room for assembling will be chemically treated with ethyl and isopropyl alcohol.

The clean room will be treated with chemicals, as well. Surfaces will be disinfected with UV radiation, the source said.

"As a rule, mercury vapor lamps are used but they have low capacity and are efficient on a very small radius only. So, modern impulse UV lamps will be utilized in the ExoMars mission," the source continued.

Impulse UV lamps can kill up to 99.9 percent of microorganisms in two to twelve minutes, he said.

The ExoMars mission stipulates two launches to be done in 2016 and 2018.

The 2016 mission will employ an orbital module and a landing demonstrator.

The orbital module will study trace gases in the Martian atmosphere and locations of water ice in the Martian soil.

The scientific payload of the orbiter will be provided by the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

The landing demonstrator module will test techniques of entry into the Martian atmosphere, descent, landing and scientific research on the Martian surface.

The orbiter will transmit data for the landing demonstrator of the 2016 mission, the landing module and the Martian rover of the 2018 mission and, possibly, other missions in a future period.

The 2018 mission consists of a landing module with a landing platform created by Roscosmos and the transportation module and the rover designed by ESA.

The rover will study the surface and the subsurface layers within the direct proximity of the touchdown zone, stage geological research and search for traces of former and existent life forms.

Roscosmos will supply both missions with Proton launch vehicles, Briz-M upper stages and launch services.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

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