Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ESA ExoMars Landing Sites: Four Candidates selected

Four possible landing sites are being considered for the ExoMars 2018 mission

The sites; Mawrth Vallis, Oxia Planum, Hypanis Vallis and Aram Dorsum, are indicated in this context map. 

All four are close to the Martian equator.

The search for a suitable landing site for the ExoMars Rover began in December 2013, when the science community was asked to propose candidate sites.

Eight proposals were received and carefully considered during a scientific workshop in March of this year.

By the end of that workshop, there were four clear front-runners. Following additional review by the Landing Site Selection Working Group, the four sites have now been formally recommended for further detailed analysis.

ExoMars is a joint two-mission endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

The Trace Gas Orbiter and an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, Schiaparelli, will be launched in January 2016, arriving at Mars nine months later.

The Rover and Surface Platform will depart in May 2018, with touchdown on Mars in January 2019.

Mawrth Vallis is one of four candidate landing sites under consideration for the ExoMars 2018 mission. 

It is one of the oldest outflow channels on Mars, at least 3.8 billion years old.

It hosts large exposures of finely layered clay-rich rocks, indicating that water once played a role here.

The image combines HRSC images from ESA Mars Express with MOLA topography data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor.

The landing ellipses under evaluation for this site selection are indicated, and cover an area of 170 x 19 km.

The orientation of the landing ellipse depends on when the launch takes place within a given launch window, the sites have to be compliant with launch opportunities in both 2018 and 2020, as indicated.

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