For the landing of the Russian-European rover picked up four possible sites

The surface area of ​​the Red Planet is approximately 145 million square kilometers. Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine how difficult it is for scientists to determine the place for the landing of the next research apparatus on Mars. In the case when the main purpose of the Martian expedition is to search for traces of the past, and possibly existing on another planet of life, then the success of the entire expedition may depend on the choice of landing site. This is the task currently facing Roskosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA). In 2018, a joint project of specialists from two leading space agencies, the rover called ExoMars, should go to Mars.

It is reported that the rover will be equipped with a drill, which will help him pick up samples of Martian soil from a depth of 2 meters. Scientists hope that with the help of this device they will be able to detect the presence of traces of microbial activity on the fourth planet from the Sun. As part of the joint Russian-European project for the exploration of Mars, it is planned to carry out previously scheduled scientific research and to solve fundamentally new scientific problems. Important aspects of this project are the development, in cooperation with ESA, of a ground-based complex for receiving data and managing interplanetary missions, as well as achieving consolidation of the experience of European and Russian specialists in creating technologies for implementing interplanetary missions. At the same time, the parties are entitled to rely on the ExoMars project as an important stage on the way to the preparation of the exploration of the Red Planet.

Back in 2012, Roscosmos became the main partner of the European Space Agency in the implementation of the ExoMars mission. One of the conditions for this cooperation was the full technical participation of the Russian side in the second stage of this mission. According to the agreements reached between Roskosmos and ESA, the Russian Federation will provide not only the means of launching space for both missions, but also some scientific instruments for them, and will also create a landing module for the second mission, ExoMars-2018. The creation of the Martian landing module will be carried out by engineers of the Scientific Research and Production Association named after S. A. Lavochkin. At the same time, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI RAS) has become the lead executor for the scientific component of this project from Russia.

The first stage of the joint project called “ExoMars-2016” includes the orbital module created by the ESA, as well as the demonstration landing module. The TGO (Trace Gas Orbiter) orbital spacecraft is designed to work on the study of small atmospheric gas impurities and the distribution of water ice in the soil of the Red Planet. For this device in Russia, the IKI RAS creates an 2 scientific instrument: the FREND neutron spectrometer and the ACS spectrometry complex.

As part of the second phase of the project, the ExoMars-2018 mission, the landing platform (Russian development) and the ESA rover, which weighs approximately 300 kilograms, will be delivered to the Martian surface using the landing module created by Russian experts from the SA Lavochkin NPO.

As a result, Russia will provide for this project:
1. Two Proton-M launch vehicles.
2. A system for entering the atmosphere of the red planet, reducing and landing the rover to the surface in 2018. In order to minimize possible risks, Russia will develop and construct the “iron” part (that is, mechanical structures), and the electronic filling of the landing platform will be supplied mainly from Europe.
3. The orbital spacecraft under the name TGO will receive Russian scientific instruments, including those created for the failed Russian mission Phobos-Grunt.
4. All scientific results of the joint expedition to Mars will become the intellectual property of Roskosmos and ESA.

To a potential landing site on the surface of Mars, a number of requirements were originally put forward. For example, it was supposed to be the area of ​​the Red Planet with a set of different geological characteristics, including the presence of ancient rocks, whose age exceeds 3,4 billion years. In addition, scientists are only interested in areas in which earlier satellites confirmed the presence of large reserves of water in the past. At the same time, much attention is paid to the safety of the landing process, since the future of the entire program may depend on this stage of the mission.

It is also necessary to take into account the fact that the Martian atmosphere is not constant, and it will not be possible to lower the vehicle to a certain point. The landing platform will enter the Martian atmosphere at speeds in 20 thousands of km / h. The heat shield will have to brake the module to a speed that is 2 times the speed of sound. After that, 2 brake parachutes will slow down the descent module to subsonic speed. At the final stage of the flight, the speed and distance to the Martian surface will be controlled by electronics, so that, at the right moment, the rocket engines will be switched off and the descent vehicle will be switched to the controlled landing mode. At the same time, it is reported that the Sky Crane system, which was used to arrive on Mars to the famous Curiosity, will not be used for landing.

The conditions changing at each stage of descent lead to the fact that the zone of possible landing should represent an ellipse of 104 size by 19 km. Such a circumstance almost immediately excludes from the list a number of potentially interesting locations for scientists, for example, the Gale crater, in which the NASA rover is currently working. Since November 2013, leading scientists in the field of geography and geology of the Red Planet have been offering their own options for potential landing areas.

Of these areas, only 8 was left, which previously met the strict requirements of scientists. At the same time, after a thorough analysis of these sites, 4 of them were eliminated. As a result, the Gipanis valley (Hypanis Vallis), the Mors valley (Mawrth Vallis), the Oxia plateau (Oxia Planum), and the Aram ridge (Aram Dorsum) were included in the final list of landing sites for the rover. All four locations are in the equatorial region of Mars.

In a press release, Jorge Vago of the ExoMars project participant states that the modern Martian surface is hostile to living organisms, but primitive life forms could exist on Mars when the climate there was more humid and warm - between 3,5 and 4 billions years ago. Therefore, a place for landing the rover must be located in an area with ancient rocks, where once in abundance it was possible to find water in a liquid state. Four scientists-defined landing sites are best suited for mission purposes.

Thus, in the territory of the Morse Valley and the nearby Oxia Plateau, some of the oldest rocks, 3,8 a billion years old, come to the surface of Mars, and the high clay content in this place indicates the presence of water here in the past. Morse Valley at the same time lies on the border of lowlands and highlands. It is assumed that in the distant past large water flows ran down this valley to lower parts. In addition, the results of the analysis showed that the rock in these areas of the Red Planet has been eroded by oxidation and radiation for only the last few hundred million years. Until that time, the materials had been protected for a long time from the effects of a destructive environment and had to keep their bowels in good condition.

In the valley of Gipanis once, perhaps, there was a delta of a large Martian river. In this area, layers of fine-grained sedimentary rocks cover the materials that have been stored here for 3,45 billion years. And the fourth place, the Aram range, got its name from the winding canal of the same name, along the banks of this channel sedimentary rocks could reliably hide the evidence of past Martian life. The final decision on choosing the landing site of the rover will be made only in 2017 year.

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  1. +10
    7 October 2014 09: 23
    Mndaa, I love science fiction, and everything related to space, when our Phobos-Grunt failed, it was a blow to my heart, and I was so looking forward to the beginning of his journey to Mars. Well, this is a joint project, but also happy, we will wait.
    1. +2
      7 October 2014 19: 50
      I will disappoint you more! such a sensation it was planned!
      1) I heard from the people in Reshetnevo (Krasnoyarsk) that its assembly began in the 90s, then they returned to it in the early 2000s and now we have finished it!
      crossing between themselves MOUSE + horse + donkey brain! so estimate what happened.
      Electronics of the 80s, then modified 2000s, etc.
      while IT also should have worked!
      Hybrid VAZ-01, plus VAZ-09 and GRANT .. here is the result!
    2. +1
      7 October 2014 22: 06
      Quote: prishelec
      when our Phobos-Grunt failed, it was a heartbeat for me

      Can you imagine a blow, my friend, when Phobos-1 goes out in front of your eyes, and then (at the very target) the 2-nd goes silent? And then you - once fellow and give a chance (maybe the last in my life) to see Phobos. And it is a break in the ocean! I (not ashamed) had tears in my eyes crying recourse
  2. +3
    7 October 2014 09: 26
    Sanctions are sanctions, and we are studying space together.
  3. +2
    7 October 2014 09: 28
    An interesting project ... but will it take place ..
    1. +1
      7 October 2014 20: 45
      Quote: parusnik
      An interesting project ... but will it take place ..

      A project, a project, it’s more likely that the money will be stolen and scattered beautifully. In general, judging by the promises of the state, our earthly ships with crews should fly for a long time. winked Both on the moon and on Mars should be our bases. Even if, judging by the observations of astronomers, extraterrestrial civilizations dominate there lol .Our bases will not hurt them if ours do not climb on the rampage. laughing
  4. +1
    7 October 2014 10: 13
    and why the devices do not sit on the poles because there are ice caps.
    1. 0
      7 October 2014 10: 24
      Quote: lazy
      because there are ice caps

      Yeah, and even from them the channels go for irrigation of gardens and crops laughing.
      What are the caps with earflaps, there is no water there in the public domain, and there is also no ice on the surface. And landing on the pole, I think, will be cleaner than the circus number, I suggest that you personally carry it out.
      1. FID
        7 October 2014 16: 29
        Quote: inkass_98
        and ice is also not on the surface

        I apologize, but you are wrong:
        Mars' polar caps have two layers. The lower, main layer, with a thickness estimated at hundreds of meters, is formed by ordinary water ice mixed with dust, which persists even in summer. These are permanent hats. The observed seasonal changes in the polar caps are due to the upper layer less than 1 meter thick, consisting of solid carbon dioxide, the so-called "dry ice". The area covered by this layer grows rapidly in winter, reaching a parallel of 50 degrees, and sometimes crossing this boundary. In spring, as the temperature rises, this layer evaporates and only a permanent cap remains.
        1. +1
          7 October 2014 21: 26
          Quote: SSI
          In spring, with increasing temperature, this layer evaporates and only a constant cap remains.

          The dark brown streaks were photographed by the Martian Orbital Reconnaissance (MRO) on thawing pinkish sand dunes covered with light frost. This is the area near the north pole of Mars. The photo was taken in April 2008. During this time, the dark sand on the interior of the Martian sand dunes became more visible as the spring Sun melted light ice from carbon dioxide. If dark sand is near the top of a dune, it can slide down, leaving dark streaks on the surface. At first glance, it may seem that these are trees facing a lighter area, but not casting shadows. In the photo covering an area ~ 1 km across, objects ~ 25 cm in size can be distinguished. If you zoom in on some parts of the photo, you can see billowing clouds of dust, showing that sandslides occurred at the time the photo was taken.
    2. biglow
      7 October 2014 13: 26
      at the poles there is frozen carbon dioxide and then this is nothing more than an assumption ...
      1. +2
        7 October 2014 15: 41
        all the more interesting it should be to find out what kind of white matter is at the poles, only carbon dioxide or water too
  5. ICT
    7 October 2014 17: 57
    A press release by Jorge Vago, a member of the ExoMars project, states that the modern Martian surface is hostile to living organisms.

    and you don’t want to climb under the surface wink
  6. +2
    7 October 2014 18: 09
    Something in the drawings is not very chassis, I hope at least the wheels of the next rover will be stronger than the American ones, otherwise the ride on the stones shook them great. Now, with such holes, you also rush into the sand, - a smart car, when slipping, tries to drive back along the old track , otherwise you can dig in and "End of the mission". So now the choice of access roads to the next point of the route is a "headache" for engineers. So far, about 9,5 km has been covered (Lunokhod-2, - 40 km), the height relative to the landing site is about 60 meters ...
    Mission "Curiosity", by the way, received the lowest rating at a special meeting of NASA "Senior review" dedicated to the effectiveness of interplanetary missions - "less motion, more science" says its conclusion. Recently, also, one of the scientists complained about the lack of one of the main tools of the rover, -drills (with a diameter of 16mm, the drilling depth is about 70mm), according to him: "Curiosity" does not drill the soil, it scratches it. "That is why our project, with the Europeans, is of interest, that it carries a more advanced device , -allows to penetrate to a depth of 2 meters. Also, NASA is developing a project for a stationary drilling rig with a 100-meter depth of drilling. Well, another competitor from NASA may greatly interest the readers of our site (since the technology is most likely dual-use) - orbital platform carrier of kinetic arrows with scientific instruments inside.
    PS, although the efficiency indicator (according to some NASA figures) is not high, but the pictures from another planet are still credible. There is a halo of mystery in the dusty haze of a distant planet. Well, thanks a lot for humanity. In the end, I’m curious how !!!
  7. +1
    7 October 2014 23: 35
    Yes-ah-but Russia has sunk in space to the level of states that have NEVER been in this area ... and even there it ALREADY is on the sidelines ... Democracy, market reforms, universal values ​​... if it goes on like this, it will go through the REGULAR 25 years of such "development", the country will be able to compete with some Uganda in the development of local salt marshes ...
    1. biglow
      11 October 2014 15: 44
      Russia had a chance to survive the next era of change, and it’s not as simple as it seems .. Therefore, a temporary lag is justified ..
  8. 0
    3 November 2014 12: 19
    How much money this Mars sucks out of the country! it was possible to finance something more useful of them, or else they would join the Martian race, which could end in disaster.