Mars targeted – first mission from ESA’s ExoMars program planned on 7th January 2016


First ExoMars mission main goal is testing of Schiaparelli module to gather information necessary in further European Mars exploration program. Roscosmos, launch service provider of mission, is going to utilize Proton-M rocket. Planned launch site is LC-81 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

European Space Agency in cooperation with Roscosmos is currently developing one Mars oriented program. It is called ExoMars and is targeted on robotic exploration and gathering information allowing in the future on manned mission to Mars (ESA is planning first manned mission to Mars around 2035). Cargo of Proton-M rocket (provided by Roscosmos) will be Schiaparelli (entry, descent and landing demonstrator module) and TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter). Both manufactured by Thales-Alenia Space will be operated by ESA and Roscosmos during predicted seven years of operational life. TGO is designed to search for gas traces (amounts under 1%) on Mars, to prove existence of geochemical processes, volcanic or hydrothermal activity. Methane with its short chemical life (600-700 years) and usually biological origin (on Earth almost 90% of this gas is produced by life forms) was discovered by Curiosity in 2013. Confirmation from another source could be considered as a proof of life existence . Schiaparelli (EDM) tasks are not less important - it will be testing technologies of entering, descending and landing on Mars. After successful reaching Mars surface it will communicate with TGO on UHF frequency. Data gathered by EDM will be transferred to Earth in real time. These tests have crucial importance in human mission planned by ESA.

Proton-M with its success rate on 94% level is significant contribution of Roscosmos in this mission. Combined with Breeze-M upper module it is capable to carry payload with weight at 5500 kg. Experience in cooperation with ESA gather during this mission will be helpful during very important task planned on 2017 - launching to ISS new module MLM Nauka.