ESA finalizes parachutes for ExoMars 2020

ESA finalizes parachutes for ExoMars 2020
ExoMars 2020 parachute deployment sequence / ESA

ESA experts finalized the parachute system for the ExoMars 2020, which trials failed twice. Parachute bags and stowage were replaced. Also, the European Space Agency has requested support from NASA, as the agency has experience in conducting spacecraft landings on the Red Planet, according to the ESA website.

The start of the second phase of the ExoMars Russian-European program is scheduled for the period from July 26 to August 11, 2020. As part of the new phase, the migratory module is supposed to deliver the landing module to the Red Planet, which will land the Kazachok autonomous research station and the Rosalind Franklin rover on its surface in March 2021. It was recommended to choose the Oxia plateau in the northern hemisphere of Mars as the landing site .

Now experts are working on testing the parachute system. At the beginning of this year, the successful opening of the 35-meter canopy of the main parachute, which is the largest of all designed to work on Mars, was demonstrated, and soon the entire sequence of the parachute system was tested – gaps were found on the fabric of the domes of the two main parachutes. Repeated tests also ended in damage to the fabric of the main parachute, which led to the collapse of the layout of the landing module.

A thorough analysis of the causes of the crash allowed the engineers to understand how to refine the parachute system. In particular, bags for parachutes and stowage were replaced. The design of the parachutes themselves has not yet changed. The ESA also requested support from NASA, as the agency has experience in landing vehicles on the Red Planet. In particular, NASA will provide an opportunity to conduct in its laboratories several tests for the deployment of parachutes from bags. It is expected that the new high-altitude test of the parachute system will be held from January to May 2020 at the Oregon training ground. Final checks of parachutes will take place at the end of April, at the same time the installation of the entire system in the landing module should be completed. However, if difficulties arise, parachutes will be stowed in flight configuration in May, during work on the launch pad of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.