The Europe Space Agency yesterday inaugurated the control center where it will control and download data from the ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin, scheduled to launch to Mars in the summer of 2020.
The control center also includes a dirt filled enclosure where they can simulate Martian conditions with a rover model.
The article outlined the project’s upcoming schedule:
Over the summer the rover will move to Toulouse, France, where it will be tested in Mars-like conditions. At the end of the year Rosalind Franklin will travel to Cannes to meet the landing and carrier modules for final assembly.
As I noted yesterday in my most recent rover update, this assembly, only six months before launch, gives them very little margin. If there are any problems during assembly, they will likely miss the 2020 launch window.
I also wonder if this will allow them any time to do acoustical and environmental testing, as was just completed on NASA’s 2020 rover, to make sure ExoMars can survive launch, landing, and the journey to Mars. If they forego those tests, they might discover after launch that they were launching a paperweight, not an expensive planetary probe.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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