ExoMars’ parachute failed, again

ESA Rover
iStock/ESA/ATG medialab

ESA’s ExoMars mission has failed it’s second round of it’s parachute testing. The mission intends on delivering a European rover and a Russian surface platform to Mars.

ESA’s ExoMars program are yet to understand and correct the problems with the four parachute breaking system.

In 2018, the lander’s colossal 35 metre-wide parachute was tested. The main parachute, once deployed functioned successfully. However the low altitude drop test with all four parachutes, failed as the two main canopies suffered radial tears during deployment.

Following the initial test, engineers altered the parachute ready for the second round of testing. Even after the alterations, the parachute failed to succeed in the the second round of testing due to damage prior to inflation.

Francois Spoto is ESA’s ExoMars Team Leader. He expressed his disappointment and hopes for the future. He said:“It is disappointing that the precautionary design adaptations introduced following the anomalies of the last test have not helped us to pass the second test successfully…But as always, we remain focused and are working to understand and correct the flaw in order to launch next year.”

The journey, delivering the rover and surface platform, will take around six months. In this time it is detrimental to the mission that the parachute does not fail, especially with the mission costing €1.3 billion.

Named Rosalind Franklin, the rover is named after the scientist who’s discoveries strongly effected the way we understand the structure of DNA.

The rover is expected to drive several kilometres in order to drill into the soil, collect samples and test them for signs of organic life.

Engineers at ESA are confident that they will be able to fix the teething problems with the landing parachute.

Francois Sporto expressed their commitment to the project: “Getting to Mars and in particular landing on Mars is very difficult…We are committed to flying a system that will safely deliver our payload to the surface of the Mars in order to conduct its unique science mission.”

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